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Parents Banned from Protesting Against LGBT Lessons

Protests against LGBT lessons being taught at a school in Birmingham have been permanently banned by the High Court.

On Tuesday, the High Court in Birmingham issued a permanent ban on protests outside the Anderton Park Primary School, after months of angry protests calling for lessons mentioning same-sex couples not to be taught.

Demonstrations have continued without fail outside the primary school in Birmingham for 5 months, leading to tense relations in the surrounding neighbourhood. Protests originally began at the nearby Parkfield Primary School where protests began prior to those at Anderton Park over the introduction of an LGBT-inclusive education programme known as ‘No Outsiders’. A large number of the protestors were parents of children attending the school, of which the majority were members of the broader Islamic faith. Protestors continuously claimed that the lessons contradicted their Islamic faith and that the lessons were not age-appropriate.

However, protests lead to much deeper claims made by certain individuals claiming that the lessons taught students to explore their sexuality, even at such a young age. Originally this led to an injunction made by Birmingham’s High Court in June that temporarily banned protests amid safety fears. Speakers at the protests made repeated claims that the lessons had a “paedophile agenda”, however during the case, the judge, Mr Justice Warby QC, stated that “None of this was true”. He added that "None of the defendants have suggested it was true and the council has proved it is not true."

One of the leaders of the protests, Shakeel Afsar stated that the lessons were “over-emphasising a gay ethos”, while the headteacher of Anderton Park Primary Schooled, Sarah Hewitt-Clarkson, rejected such claims arguing that the material took great care into how children were being taught about same-sex relationships and that they were appropriate for the age group. Recounting a meeting that she had had in her office with Mr Afsar, she described him as being highly aggressive and using the word ‘demand’. Furthermore, Mrs Hewitt-Clarkson highlighted to the court that parents had the opportunity to voice concerns formally and informally to them but instead Mr Afsar attempted continuously to create further anger in the community leading to the scale of the protests.

Amidst the controversy, the UK government has stated that all parents will not be allowed to veto compulsory relationship lessons when they are fully rolled out in September 2020.

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