LGBTI-Inclusive Education, Birmingham, and Bigotry.
There are growing protests against LGBTI-inclusive education at a primary school in Birmingham, England, and they are taking an ugly turn, fed by disinformation, lies, and accusations of ‘Islamophobia’. The protests have become so disturbing that the local authority has won an injunction to place an exclusion zone around the school gates, which comes into force as from Monday, 3 June 2019.
Pupils at Anderton Park Primary School are 80% Muslim, and many parents have objected to the teaching of an award-winning LGBTI-inclusive programme, No Outsiders, which has twice been approved by the schools ombudsman, Ofsted. Parents are objecting to this programme, on the grounds that it is ‘sexualising’ children, and claiming that children of 4-5 years of age are “too young” to be learning about relationships. There have also been some protestors, who do not even have children at the school, spreading propaganda, including showing fake pages which they claim comes from No Outsiders literature, showing scantily-clad figures in same-sex sexual encounters. One Islamic preacher, from Batley, Yorkshire, over 100 miles from the school, spreading these pages accused the teachers of being paedophiles.
The self-appointed leader of the protest, who has no children of his own at the school, but is uncle to two pupils, has been giving speeches daily, some of which have gone off at a tangent, talking of “bombs falling down on the heads of Muslims” around the world. There have been reports of hardliners insisting on taking part in talks between teachers and parents, only to shout the teachers down and stop them from talking. Teachers have been harassed and threatened, and the head teacher, whom protestors want to resign, has even received death threats. Other parents who have no problem with No Outsiders and who want their children to attend the school have been accosted by protestors outside the school gates and shouted at, right in front of little children. Some parents have said this is taking part even streets away, and one Muslim mother stated that she was confronted by a man who shouted at her that if she took her child to the school, “You are not a true Muslim and you will burn in Hell.” Some of the protestors took their children out of the school. Some other parents are now too frightened to take their children to school. A group of women who gained permission from the school to hang rainbow flags and messages of support were suddenly confronted by a group of men, were pelted with eggs, and told “Get out of our community.”
The protests are attracting people from well outside the area, including not only Muslims but also anti-LGBT Christians. One such preacher who comes from Bournemouth, again over 100 miles distant from the school, claimed that teaching “gay equality” was confusing children, then related a claim about a little girl who would not help a friend who had fallen down, “in case I get called a lesbian”. This story almost certainly never happened – strange how many ‘Christians’ think it is okay to tell lies, if they think the ends justify the means. He then went on to rattle off dubious statistics about gay people and sexually transmitted diseases. The protests are reported to be spreading to other schools, and even more bizarrely, there are reports of extreme right-wingers, who are usually the first to be against Muslims, joining in.
So just what is LGBTI-inclusive education? Well for a start it does not teach anything to do with sexual relationships. If little ones as young as four were being any kind of explicit sex education, I would be the first to complain. But the simple fact is that it does not.
LGBTI-inclusive education merely teaches that LGBTI people exist, and that as such they should be receive exactly the same amount of common dignity and respect which cisgender, heterosexual people are not only accorded but take for granted. It is about teaching tolerance, and that is hugely important.
One mother protesting asked, “Do you know how hard it is to explain to a four year old why someone has two mummies?” I have no doubt it is, dear. But then, given that she and other parents are so unwilling to give a child an answer to such questions, it must fall to the schools to give that child the answer they deserve in an honest, tactful, and age-appropriate manner. To teach them that some people are attracted to and love people of the same gender, that that is quite natural, and perfectly okay. Just as natural and normal as anyone being attracted to and falling in love with someone of the opposite gender.
Some parents completely object to this, claiming that little children are too young and are not interested in any form of relationships at all. Are they really? Well, I do hope that those parents who claim such do not tell their little ones fairy stories about beautiful princesses and handsome princesses, etc, given that their children are obviously too young to hear about and not interested in relationships at all. Indeed, one Christian caller to a radio show spouted this nonsense about not teaching small children about relationships. My immediate thoughts were to wonder if he has never once told his children (and sadly, yes, he does have children) about Adam and Eve, Mary, Joseph, and the ‘Baby Jesus’, or many other couples in the Bible for that matter. I think we all know the answer to that. Too young to hear about relationships is rubbish. Not only are children definitely interested, society openly encourages it, and teaches about relationships from the cradle upwards. If anyone has a problem with this, please be my guest to dump all your fairy tale books, your Disney DVDs, and your Bibles and Qur’ans.
Some claim their children are too young for relationships, and they are being sexualised. Because of course, no child as young as 4 has never had a little girlfriend or boyfriend, or has never had a crush, have they? Newsflash, when I was 5 I was besotted with the little girl along the road from me – and the little boy across the road from me. If one were actually to do a poll of people, they would find that the vast majority of us had ‘special’ friends we ‘loved’, even from an early age.
And this should come as no surprise. Far from thinking that children are not sexual beings, yes, they are. Now I know that’s going to horrify quite a few people, but the fact is that we are all, each and every one of us, born ‘sexual beings’. However, I am by no means punting paedophilia here. Indeed, actual sexual longings do not start to kick in until adolescence. But nonetheless, children are attracted to each other from an early age, and while the feelings may not be sexual, there is an enormous deal of affection involved, and little hearts can be broken ~ much worse than adult ones.
And of course, the protestors also claim that teaching about other genders is not age-appropriate. Really? Except that science has observed that children as young as 3 are quite capable of expressing gender, and that pertains to cisgender children every bit as much as any other gender. And again, society actually actively encourages this from the cradle upwards. Parents still dress little boys in blue, and little girls in pink. They will paint their nurseries in such colours, and decorate them with things they think are appropriate to the child’s assigned gender. There may be fairies and unicorns for a girl, or cars and rockets for boys. But of course, the moment a child is adamant that they are another gender, it becomes a different matter. “You’re too young to know.” says no one, ever, to the cisgender child. That’s exactly what one mother continually told her child ~ until the day she found her 5-year-old with a pair of scissors, sobbing their heart out, and trying to cut their penis off. That mother had a stark lesson in gender dysphoria, and her child today is a beautiful and confident little girl.
Sexual and gender identity in children is therefore also important to LGBTI-inclusive education. For far from confusing children, if they do find themselves attracted to a child of the same gender, or if they feel they do not identify as the gender they were assigned, it teaches them that such feelings are perfectly normal, and that if they have such feelings, they can approach their teacher to talk about it. But it also teaches cishet children that such things are perfectly normal, and that aspect of LGBTI-inclusive education helps to reduce harassment, ostracisastion, and bullying of LGBTI children.
The protestors in Birmingham are claiming they are not homophobes and transphobes. Of course you’re not dears ~ in exactly the same way the racist starts a sentence “I’m not a racist, but…” They are homophobes and transphobes, and they are the ones confused, and trying to impose their dark ages religious hate ~ both Muslims and Christians ~ upon children, who more than likely would be the very ones to be accepting and tolerant of all.
No one is born a bigot; it is learned primarily in the home, and is spread by other adults and peers. Those parents in Birmingham protesting were brought up in bigotry, and they are now attempting to instil that not only in their own children, but by seeking an end to the No Outsiders programme, and seeking the resignation of the head teacher, to indoctrinate all children at the school with the same. That must never happen, and contrary to what some protestors are stating, that’s not ‘Islamophobia’ (I hate that stupid word, dears), it is merely that a civilised society cannot and will not ever tolerate the intolerance of others, no matter where it comes from. If anything, to claim that LGBTI-inclusive education is anti-Muslim is dangerous. Not only are those claiming such trying to push one extremist interpretation of Islam, then trying to play the victim, but it also has the potential to make less people believe genuine case of anti-Islamic bigotry when it does occur.
Many Muslims ~ and Christians ~ have absolutely no problem with LGBTI people. It is time for the protestors in Birmingham to get on board with that, and time to let the educators get on with teaching tolerance, respect, and dignity for all.
A final word for the protestors, should any be reading. By sheer weight of numbers, some of your children will almost certainly turn out to be gay, lesbian, transgender, or some other part of the LGBTI spectrum. Just what are you going to say when they come out? Are you going to love them any less?