Protests over LGBT lessons have no place outside primary schools – police chief

A police chief has said lawful or unlawful protests have “no place” outside primary schools after recent clashes over the teaching of LGBT lessons.

Chief Constable Dave Thompson, of West Midlands Police, said a “number of criminal offences” had taken place outside Anderton Park Primary School in Birmingham since Sunday evening.

The force received reports at 9.30pm on Sunday of assault and criminal damage on Dennis Road in Moseley, as well as reports of malicious communications received by the school on Thursday.

Police were also present at the school on Monday after protesters claimed around 600 pupils were withdrawn from lessons.

The force’s chief constable has now stepped in to express his “increasing concern” over the rhetoric of the protests.

Mr Thompson said: “In recent months some Birmingham primary schools have been subject to protests by parents concerning the schools’ curriculum on equality.

“These protests have resulted in an ongoing protest outside Anderton Park Primary School. These protests have, to date, been lawful.

“West Midlands Police has been discharging our duty to maintain the public peace and where criminal offences are identified to act.”

Speaking of the recent clashes between the two sides outside the school, Mr Thompson said: “In the last 24 hours, a number of criminal offences have taken place that the force will investigate and seek to bring people to justice.

“As a citizen of this city, I have observed these protests and the rhetoric around them with increasing concern. West Midlands Police values and celebrates the diversity of this area.

“We believe the strength of this city is in tolerant and diverse communities.

School protest
Parents, children and protesters demonstrate against the lessons about gay relationships (PA)

“Sadly, this is not the image of Birmingham that these events are projecting around the country and the world.”

Mr Thompson has now urged campaigners to consider the effect their protests are having on the reputation on the city of Birmingham.

He said: “It is very important all those involved in the dispute at Anderton Park recognise the adverse impact this is having on the reputation of the city, broader cohesion and, most importantly, the children at this school.

“Views are entrenching with a determination to win this argument. This is creating an environment where those who seek division will have cause to celebrate and to exploit.

“Frankly, a primary school is no place for the continuance of a large scale protest, however lawful.”

He added: “In this holy period of Ramadan, and as we celebrate Pride in our city, I urge those involved and those who can influence these events to think again and consider how they can come together to discuss these strongly held views and bring this protest to an end.

School protest
An ongoing protest has been held outside Anderton Park Primary School (PA)

“West Midlands Police cannot solve this problem but we will support all involved in seeking a dialogue and a solution.

“Equally, we will act where people see to exploit these matters and break the law.”

Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson, who supports the work of West Midlands Police, said: “Teachers should be free to get on with teaching a full curriculum, that highlights and explains Britain’s full diversity without fear of protests or threats. All forms of equality are equally important.

“As a former head teacher, I understand full well that schools need to work with parents and would encourage productive dialogue to continue.

“I must emphasise though that protests and threats have no place outside of the school gates and where there is evidence of criminality the police will be investigating thoroughly.”

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