Muslim Councillor Backs Down After Labour Insists: ‘LGBT Primary Schools Is Who We Are’

Birmingham
Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
VIRGINIA HALE

A Muslim councillor has apologised after Labour activists accused him of attacking the party’s “values and traditions” when he suggested primary school-aged children were “too young” for a curriculum based around celebrating LGBT lifestyles and so-called diversity.

LGBT Labour West Midlands demanded a “full apology” from Mohammed Idrees, a councillor in Birmingham, after he supported local residents who objected to the introduction of a ‘homosexuality-promoting’ curriculum in their children’s primary school.

Mr Idrees, who represents the predominantly Muslim, inner-city suburb of Alum Rock, acknowledged he had “overstepped the mark”, after the LGBT activist group demanded the local party leadership take action “to demonstrate that they do not condone” the councillor’s plea for Parkfield Community School to listen to parents’ concerns over some of the teaching materials.

“We are very concerned about the recent comments of Councillor Mohammed Idrees — in particular his criticism of LGBT+ inclusive education,” the group said in a statement, which added that the councillor’s remarks were an affront to “the values and traditions of the Labour party” as well as bringing up “a painful legacy of discrimination” for sexual minorities in the region.

They added that the Mr Idrees’s “deeply-held” religious beliefs “should not come at the cost of the LGBT+ community including LGBT+ students at the school,” which is attended by a total of 740 pupils aged between 4 and 11, around 98 percent of whom are of the Muslim faith.

The Labour politician had previously said the school “must be sensitive to Muslim parents and Islam”, stating his constituents were annoyed that the controversial ‘No Outsiders’ curriculum was “promoted quite aggressively” at the school.

Apologising to sexual minorities in the region, Mr Idrees said he “fully supports” the city council’s LGBT policies, but that the current situation in which some parents are “threatening to take their children out of school” as a result of the curriculum “is clearly something we all want to avoid”.

In a statement, the school admitted many parents “were concerned that the school was promoting homosexuality and indoctrinating their children to be gay” through ‘No Outsiders’, but insisted teachers “have no plans to change their curriculum”.

Responding to questions from BirminghamLive, Parkfield Community School told the newspaper: “The No Outsiders programme teaches children that everyone is welcome.

“It was created in 2014 by Andrew Moffat, assistant head at Parkfield Community School, and piloted at the school.

“The aim was to find a way to teach children about the Equality Act 2010, developing an understanding of British values through an inclusive curriculum and school ethos.”

Protesters had highlighted Mr Moffat’s work history in their petition against the school, noting that the openly gay assistant headteacher had to leave his last role “because parents believed he had no right coming out to children”, and that they “wanted all the lessons containing LGBT to be removed from curriculum”.

Following his resignation from Chilwell Croft Academy 2014, Mr Moffat was awarded an MBE for “services to equality and diversity in education” after working on education programmes designed to ‘promote and celebrate equality’.

Amongst resources featured on the teacher’s website is a lesson plan designed to teach children “what freedom of speech means”, using a book titled The Only Way Is Badger.

Encouraging children to analyse the storybook, which relays the tale of a badger supremacist whose unkind words results in his forest home being cleared of non-badger fauna, Mr Moffat says pupils should consider how “words can hurt people” when it is alleged that free speech entails “the freedom to say what you think”.

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