Words: Will Stroude
The gay teacher who started lessons on LGBTQ acceptance and diversity currently being protested by homophobic parents across schools in Birmingham and Greater Manchester has revealed he has sought counselling in the wake of the row.
Andrew Moffat, who began the 'No Outsiders' programme in 2014 as a way to teach primary school children issues like race, disability, gender and sexuality in an age-appropriate manner, said that the personal abuse directed at him during protests outside Parkfield Community School had been "very hurtful".
Speaking ahead of the Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai, where he was nominated for the $1 million Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize for his work, Mr Moffat said: “It’s very hurtful. I think the worst part for me was when adults who weren’t actually parents were getting children to chant 'Get Mr Moffat out.' Now that was awful.
“There was another time when someone was shouting ‘shame, shame, shame’. That was very difficult for me."
He added: “But we have got to remember as well that there are many, many, many parents who weren’t on the protest, who brought their kids into school. There are many parents who talk to me all the time and say, ‘This is important and we support you.’"
Protests outside Parkfield Community School have been temporarily called off after the school agreed to suspend the 'No Outsiders' programme until a "resolution" is reached with parents. Last week, four more schools participating in the programme announced they would also be scrapping the lessons for the forseeable future.
Mr Moffat, who was awarded an MBE in 2017 for services to equality and diversity, later told Tes that Parkfield school l had helped arrange counselling sessions for him as the controversy continues to generate national headlines.
“The school has paid for counselling sessions for me, which have been really useful", he said.
“I’ve never been in to counselling before or therapy but I highly recommend it, because I do feel responsible for all the schools that are doing 'No Outsiders', because there’s hundreds of them, and I’m saying ‘Here’s how you do it', and it’s really hard for me to then say ‘Oh, yeah, but we’ve suspended it at our school’.
“That’s really, really hard.”
Despite the personal toll the row has taken, Mr Moffat said he that he was pleased that other schools had expressed interest in the programme since the backlash began.
“I’ve had a surge in requests for meetings, so people are not put off by what’s happening in my school," he said.
“In fact, people I think are seeing that this is a thing that is important, this needs to happen, because if it happens in my school, it can happen anywhere.”
The row over 'No Outsiders' comes as the government prepares to introduce new guidelines making inclusive Relationship Education mandatory in primary schools from September 2020.
For a full breakdown of what the current guidelines say and what the changes will mean moving forward, click here.