Labour MP for Birmingham Ladywood Shabana Mahmood has suggested that 'LGBT+ acceptance lessons' are 'not age appropriate' for primary school children, and people are furious.
Mahmood was speaking in the Commons after parents from her constituency complained that primary schools were teaching their children about LGBT+ acceptance and same-sex relationships.
Specifically, Parkfield community school in Birmingham had stopped lessons introduced as a programme to challenge homophobia following protests from parents. On Friday, around 600 Muslim children aged between four and 11 were withdrawn from the school for the day, reports The Guardian.
The lessons were part of the school's 'No Outsiders' programme, which aimed to promote LGBT+ equality, challenge homophobia in primary schools and show that families can come in all shapes and sizes.
However, in a letter to parents, the school has now confirmed that the No Outsiders lessons will be stopped until a full consultation has been conducted with every parent.
But Shabana Mahmood's speech in the Commons is now being challenged as homophobic, as many have interpreted her words as suggesting the lessons promoting LGBT+ equality and acceptance were not 'age appropriate'.
Speaking in the Commons, she said:
The issue that most of my constituents have been writing to me and wanting to speak to me about is on the specifics of mandatory relationships education at primary school.
So, none of my constituents are seeking particular opt-outs or differential opt-outs at secondary school level, it is all about the age appropriateness of conversations with young children in the context of religious backgrounds and that is a context with which my constituents have been contacting me.
Mahmood also shared the speech on Twitter:
It's vital that schools follow the guidance for teaching #RSE, with parental engagement and proper consideration for pupils' religion and background.
Yesterday, I made this clear to Education ministers in response to a petition signed by 1,763 #Birmingham #Ladywood constituents.
It’s vital that schools follow the guidance for teaching #RSE, with parental engagement and proper consideration fo… https://t.co/p5FSsPJjK3
@ShabanaMahmood I have two gay male friends who are married and just yesterday their 7 year old adapted son celebra… https://t.co/gtFK2aXc05
— Bernard McEldowney (@Bernard McEldowney)
The chief inspector for Ofstead Amanda Spielman supported the school, and said it's vital for children to learn about 'families that have two mummies and two daddies'.
The Humanists UK chief executive Andrew Copson said:
We are deeply worried that the school has been forced to stop teaching these important classes due to mounting pressure from some Muslim parents. It is vital that all young people, some of whom will be LGBT+ themselves, grow up with age-appropriate information as to the facts of life and the virtue of tolerance.
The UK government has consistently said that schools will not be able to avoid teaching respect for LGBT+ people on the grounds of religion and we look to them now to take action. They should not give in to bullies who are opposing the values of respect, kindness, and tolerance for all in our society.
indy100 has contacted Shabana Mahmood for comment.