Parents are upset after a primary school in London suspended two Christian students for allegedly making homophobic comments, which they vehemently deny.
Susan Papas, the head teacher of South Norwood’s Heavers Farm Primary School, took disciplinary action after an unidentified woman visiting the school claimed she overheard the students make the comments.
The woman said the students made such comments during a discussion of the school’s participation in an LGBTI Pride march.
Papas suspended Kaysey Francis-Austin and Farrell Spence, 10, for five days.
Students’ alleged comments are horrible
According to the Daily Mail, Heavers Farm is not identifying the woman or her role at the school.
In an email to Francis-Austin and Spence’s parents, however, Papas revealed the woman accused the students of making horrible comments.
She reportedly claimed the students discussed how ‘gay people should die’.
The woman also attributed specific, alleged quotes to each child. She said Francis-Austin made a comment about how LGBTI peple ‘have let the devil into them and they need to be killed’. Spence, meanwhile, allegedly said LGBTI people should ‘die or go to prison’.
Papas also outlined in the email that the woman reportedly asked the students if her ‘black lesbian friends should die’ and they responded affirmatively.
But the students strongly deny saying these things
Francis-Austin and Spence, both of whom belong to different Christian denominations, told their parents they never made such comments. Instead, they said, they were discussing how they did not want to take part in the march.
‘I only learned what homophobic means the other day,’ Francis-Austin said. ‘So I was confused when she [Papas] said that I was being very homophobic. I’m not homophobic, I’m just against the point of putting it [LGBT topics] in schools and teaching it to children.’
The students also said they made comments during the discussion how some countries punish LGBTI people for their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. They maintain, however, they were simply trying to explain this fact and the comments were misconstrued.
Francis-Austin’s mother Karen is trying to find a new school for her daughter.
‘The school is failing to recognise our Christian beliefs and is persecuting us for wanting to maintain our Bible beliefs,’ she said.
Not the first time the school has clashed with parents
Heavers Farm has previously clashed with Christian parents over LGBTI lessons and activities. In the past, parents have criticized the school, threatened to remove their children, and gotten events canceled.
Multiple schools in the UK have faced these collisions between parents and instructors over LGBTI lessons.
Birmingham has been racked with protests about this matter. One school in Birmingham recently announced they’d be resuming an altered version of its LGBTI lessons, but some parents still aren’t happy.
Heavers Farm did not respond to GSN’s request for comment before publication.
Update 9 July: Heavers Farm responded to GSN’s iniquiry and provided a statement.
‘We take our duty to teach the fundamental British values of tolerance, equal rights and mutual respect very seriously,’ the school said.
‘We will not tolerate any violence, or the threat of it, against any members of our community and we will always take necessary steps to protect our pupils, staff and visitors.’