Relationship education protests spread to another primary school
Protests against relationships and sex education in classrooms have spread to another primary school.
A demonstration was held near Fernwood Primary School in Nottingham on Monday with organisers protesting against what they have claimed is the “sexualisation” and “indoctrination” of children there.
One of the men at the demonstration was Amir Ahmed, who was recently banned by an injunction from protesting outside the gates of Anderton Park Primary School in Birmingham.
There have been 17 weeks of demonstrations at the Birmingham primary, which one organiser claimed was “over-emphasising a gay ethos”.
Protests have also been held at Parkfield Community School, in the Alum Rock area of the city, in a row there over teaching LGBT rights.
Both demonstrations have previously been labelled “unacceptable” by the Education Secretary.
Labour MP Lilian Greenwood whose Nottingham South constituency includes the Arleston Drive school said she would meet with any concerned parents, but had not heard “from a single Fernwood parent” who wanted the protests.
Nottingham City Council also backed the school’s leadership adding it appeared none of the protesters had any direct link to Fernwood.
Speaking after Monday’s protest, Mr Ahmed said: “It’s a different school, community and city, but the issues are the same.
“Government policy is such it is foisting an agenda on young children for parents who run a traditional conservative family.
“It (the teaching) runs contrary to their values.”
But those in a nearby, larger counter-protest – some holding rainbow flags – condemned the demonstration as “bigotry and homophobia”.
However, Mr Ahmed, who is not a parent at either school, said: “It really isn’t about the LGBT issue – it’s about indoctrination being pushed.”
He claimed the “LGBT” lobby had “made it look like it’s about equality”, but the issue was about “values”.
“We have a difference in values and the school is not respecting that,” he added.
The council has said schools are “duty-bound” to teach relationships and sex education (RSE) at primary age, and teachers were experienced enough to make it age-appropriate.
Ahead of the protests, Ms Greenwood raised the prospect of the demonstration with Education Secretary Damian Hinds.
Replying, Mr Hinds said: “I share your concern about these issues and about the troubling events that we have seen recently outside two schools in Birmingham.
“I have been very clear that protests outside schools, which can frighten children and intimidate hard-working teachers and parents, are unacceptable.”
Mr Hinds said the Government had been “working closely” with councils, teaching unions, Ofsted and the police “to understand if there are similar issues emerging in other parts of the country” and “take action”.
He added: “Ultimately, we will back headteachers to make the final decisions about what is taught in schools.”
Another of the protest’s organisers, Ayaz Ahmed, told PA he got involved after being contacted on Wednesday by parents at the school, who wanted to mount a demonstration.
The father-of-three, who is from Nottingham but has no children himself at the school, previously attended meetings in Birmingham about demonstrations there.
Describing himself as a “community leader” who said he had a 22-year background in education, Mr Ahmed said he had arranged to have Monday’s protest moved away from Fernwood’s gates – a move welcomed by the council.
He said: “I thought it could be divisive, so I took control, to make sure it wasn’t going to be a shouting-about-hatred situation.”
Mr Ahmed added: “It’s not about LGBT, it’s about the sexualisation of children.”
The 40-year-old said the parents wanted consultation with the school, and the campaign would continue to “build-up” until they succeeded.
He met with Nottingham City Council’s leader David Mellen and its elected education chief on Thursday.
In a statement, councillor Mellen said: “In modern Britain, families come in many different shapes and sizes, including same-sex parents, single parents, fostering and adoptive parents.
“It is important that children and young people are given the opportunity to explore a range of family and relationship types in a way that is supportive, inclusive and affirms children’s different experiences of family life.”
In a series of tweets, Ms Greenwood supported counter-protesters, which included some parents, and said she was “proud” of those promoting “inclusion and respect”.
Referring to Amir Ahmed, she added: “A man who has been banned from protesting outside a Birmingham school decided to come and protest outside a school in our city.
“So far I haven’t heard from a single Fernwood parent who wants him or the other protesters to be here.”
The MP also responded directly to a remark from Ayaz Ahmed that constituents or Labour members could “get rid” of Ms Greenwood either at the ballot box, or as the party’s official candidate, at the next general election.
She said: “If you want to remove me as the MP for Nottingham South or as the Labour candidate at the next election because I stand up for equality. Bring. It. On.”