Teachers have called on the UK government to provide more support for schools teaching lessons on LGBTI-inclusivity.
Headteacher Sarah Hewitt-Clarkson of Anderton Park School said that guidance on teaching LGBTI issues at schools remain unclear
Hewitt-Clarkson made the call at the National Association of Head Teachers’ (NAHT) conference on Saturday (4 May).
This follows months of protests outside schools with LGBTI-inclusivity programs in Birmingham, including Anderton Park primary.
The demonstrations began in protests against the LGBTI-inclusivity No Outsiders program taught at Birmingham’s Parkfield Community School.
Hewitt-Clarkson said the ‘beyond-awful state of affairs’ needed to be addressed. Education Secretary Damian Hinds has also spoken out against the protests in the past.
‘The lead protestors have no children at my school’
Speaking at the NAHT conference, Hewitt-Clarkson condemned the protests and called out some of the people involved in the demonstrations. ‘The lead protestors have no children at my school,’ she said.
Hewitt-Clarkson also highlighted some of the anti-LGBTI banners the protestors had displayed at school grounds. These included slogans such as ‘Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve’ and ‘We have a say in what they learn’.
‘How have we got to this beyond-awful state of affairs?’ Hewitt-Clarkson asked attendees at the conference.
She praised the government’s upcoming relationships education policy as ‘excellent and clear’.
The policy will teach children that both opposite-sex and same-sex marriages are a life-long commitment. It also teaches that families can be in a multitude of forms, such as LGBTI parents, single parents, grandparents.
But Hewitt-Clarkson said that the policy remained vague on numerous points. This includes that the policy did not inherently support promoting various types of relationships – including both opposite-sex and same-sex relationships – but rather focuses on the general ideas of ‘love and care’.
She also objected to suggestions that schools have discretion over whether LGBTI learning materials are age-appropriate for their students.
She said that the policy had left many headteachers dealing with confusion from its lack of direction.
Hewitt-Clarkson called on Hinds to work with her and other members of the NAHT ‘to sort out this unequal mess’.
The row over LGBTI-inclusivity education in UK schools has been making headlines following a series of protests against the Parkfield Community School’s No Outsiders program earlier in the year.
Protestors in the Muslim-majority areas claim that primary school children are too young for such material, or that pro-LGBTI education stands in contrast to Islamic teachings. A number of schools in the area halted their LGBTI-inclusivity lessons as a result.
LGBTI rights advocates, including LGBTI Muslim groups, have condemned the campaigners’ actions. Government education officials and the head of the UK’s school watchdog, Ofsted, have also voiced their support for LGBTI-inclusivity lessons.
The No Outsiders program is the brainchild of Parkfield’s assistant headteacher, Andrew Moffat.
The teacher has been widely praised for his contribution to LGBTI education in UK schools, being shortlisted for a global teaching award and receiving an MBE in 2017.
Last week it was announced that Moffat would be open and lead this year’s Birmingham Pride Parade.