Those who object to these lessons often do so due to a misconception that if children are being taught about gay relationships, surely gay sex must come into it at some point. That's not only untrue—it's actively harmfulby Beth Desmond / March 5, 2019 / Leave a comment
Yesterday, it was reported that Parkfield Primary School in Birmingham had announced it would not be continuing its “No Outsiders” programme, which was intended to teach pupils acceptance for other groups in line with the Equality Act, including discussions on same-gender relationships and marriage as well as trans issues. In response to the programme, parents had been protesting outside the school with signs reading “Stop Exploiting Children’s Innocence” and “Education Not Indoctrination.” (The school denies there is a link, saying it was planning to halt the program anyway.)
Fatima Shah, one of the leaders of the protest, was quoted as saying, “We are not a bunch of homophobic mothers. We just feel that some of these lessons are inappropriate. Some of the themes being discussed are very adult and complex and the children are getting confused.”
Shabana Mahmood, the Labour MP for Birmingham Ladywood—where parents have lodged complaints—told fellow MPs, “It is all about age-appropriateness of conversations with young children in the context of religious backgrounds.”
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. pic.twitter.com/M3Whe4SgDs
— Shabana Mahmood (@ShabanaMahmood) February 26, 2019
This quote raises two main issues with regard to the Parkfield story. The first is the “age-appropriateness of conversations with young children.” Mahmood cites Section 34 of the Children and Social Work Act 2017 in her speech, which says that relationships and sex education must be age appropriate and “appropriate to … the religious background” of pupils.
For many LGBT people, this citation will bring back memories of Section 28: the clause in the Local Government Act 1988 which forbade “the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship.” The year before it was introduced, then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher had told her party conference that, “Children who need to be taught to respect traditional moral values are being taught that they have an inalienable right to be gay.”
The message is always that gay relationships are inappropriate for children. A large part of this belief has its origins in the idea that same-gender relationships are inherently sexual, whilst heterosexual relationships are instead about love and romance. Many parents (and politicians) who object to these lessons do so due to a misconception that if children are being taught about gay relationships, surely gay sex must come into it at some point.
In reality, they are…