Hate crimes at schools in and around the Birmingham area have risen more than 50 per cent in the last year, worrying new findings show.
Research by The Independent found that hate crime offences recorded by West Midlands police involving children aged 17 and under in and near to schools and colleges leapt from 44 in 2017 to 67 in 2018-19 - a rise of 52 per cent.
The Independent also reports that between December 2018 to May 2019, during the height of the protests, the number of reported hate crimes reported in the West Midlands area was more than double what it had been during the same six-month period the year before.
The findings come as protests against LGBTQ-inclusive education lessons continue at several schools in Birmgingham including Parkfield Community School and Anderton Park Primary school, led my mainly Muslim parents and campaigners.
West Midlands police are currently investigating a 'homophobic' video circulated on social media in recent weeks referring to the teaching at Anderton Park, as well as 'Islamaphobic' messages sent to the school.
Andrew Moffat, assistant head at Parkfield school and the man who started the LGBTQ-inclusive 'No Outsiders' programme at the centre of the controversy, told The Independent he was "really concerned" that the ongoing conflict is normalising hatred.
"I have never experienced homophobia like I have in the last six months", the recent Attitude Pride Award winner said.
"[The figures] are extremely worrying. The protests have given a licence to people that think it is okay to shout abuse. I think it is becoming acceptable to stand outside and chant ‘shame’ about a gay teacher.”
Mr Moffat called on the Department for Education (DfE) to take a stronger stance and offer schools more support, echoing recent comments by Parkfield boss Hazel Pulley, who last month accused the government department of putting school staff under "extreme pressure" to axe 'No Outsiders' in order to bury the problem.
"People are seeing that this is happening and they are not seeing a strong, robust response from the Department for Education - or from anyone in fact," Mr Moffat said.
"I am really concerned that there is a culture developing where hate crime is becoming acceptable."