Minister accused of angry reaction following criticism of LGBT education remarks
Andrea Leadsom was accused of having “shouted angrily” and “jabbing her finger” toward an MP who criticised her comments on LGBT education.
Labour’s Stephen Doughty questioned if the alleged conduct of the Commons Leader towards him was “appropriate” given Mrs Leadsom was “responsible for bullying and conduct in this House”.
He made the claims in the Commons shortly before a vote on changes to relationship and sex education in schools was deferred after the motion was objected to, with Tory MP Philip Davies (Shipley) heard shouting against it.
Theresa May was earlier urged to “condemn” Mrs Leadsom, who told a radio interview that she backed legislation requiring that relationships and sex education is taught in schools and said parents should be able to choose when their children become “exposed” to the information.
Raising a later point of order in the Commons, Mr Doughty (Cardiff South and Penarth) claimed: “During the passage of the last vote, the Leader of the House walked into the chamber, shouted angrily across the chamber at me, jabbing her finger, saying that she deserved an apology from me because I had raised concerns about her comments about LGBT education.”
Responding, Deputy Speaker Dame Rosie Winterton said: “I do wish that (members) behave with decorum.”
During Prime Minister’s Questions, Labour’s Lloyd Russell-Moyle also criticised Mrs May – pointing out that she had “campaigned to keep Section 28” which prevented the “promotion of homosexuality”, which he said “led to millions of young people like myself growing in fear of being LGBT”.
Mr Russell-Moyle said: “I thought the Prime Minister had seen the error of her ways, but this morning the Leader of the House (Mrs Leadsom) said on radio that parents should decide when they are ‘exposed’ to LGBT education.
“This is Conservative Party dog-whistle politics. Will the Prime Minister condemn the Leader of the House?
“Will she condemn bigots that don’t want LGBT people to be heard in schools, and will she support Ofsted with good LGBT education in schools?”
Mrs May said she was “very happy to write to him” with the detailed advice to schools on LGBT education in schools, but sparked anger from the Labour benches by failing to mentions Mrs Leadsom’s comments.
The Commons Leader had told LBC radio: “I think that it’s right that the Government should have passed legislation that requires that relationships and sex education is taught in schools.
“But, at the same time, I also agree that it’s right that parents should be able to choose the moment at which their children become exposed to that information.
“And there are steps taken to enable parents to withdraw their children from classes up to a certain age.”
Asked if five-year-olds should receive such lessons, she added: “I would be entirely happy for my children to grow up finding that their LGBT classmates are exactly the same as them.
“One of my own kids was in a class with a friend who had two mums and that was absolutely normal right from a very young age.
“I think it’s important that we absolutely accept equality in every area whilst at the same time respecting that parents may have concerns about how young their children are when they become aware of these things.”
Mrs Leadsom later released a statement saying: “As I said this morning, it is vital that every child is taught about the need for tolerance and respect, at home and in school, and that they demonstrate these values towards LGBT individuals at all times.
“I believe wholeheartedly in equality and ensuring children grow up accepting and respecting the diversity that shapes our country.
“Government policy allows parents to choose when their child takes part in sex education lessons of all kind, up until the age of 15.
“This unacceptable and deliberate misrepresentation of my views will have genuinely hurt my own LGBT friends and family, as well as the wider LGBT community.”