Birmingham school teaching LGBT lessons to close early

School teaching LGBT lessons to close early due to protests

The school will close early on Friday due to protests over lessons about LGBT relationships

Thursday, May 23, 2019

A primary school facing protests from parents on Friday over the teaching of LGBT and equality is to close early on Friday over safety fears.

The decision means Anderton Park Primary School in Birmingham will shut at lunchtime for the half-term break.

It comes after weeks of demonstrations outside the gates of the school.

Welcoming the "extremely difficult decision" to close early, Birmingham City Council leader Ian Ward said his priority is the safety of pupils, families and staff, as protests had "escalated significantly" over the past week.

"I support the extremely difficult decision that has been taken to close Anderton Park School at lunchtime on Friday," he said.

"This decision was not taken lightly but protests outside the school have escalated significantly over the past week and our first priority must always be the safety of pupils, families and staff."

On Tuesday, West Midlands Police Chief Constable David Thompson called for a halt to protests, and for fresh talks between school leaders and parents who have objected to elements of Anderton Park's relationship education.

Mr Thompson said: "Frankly, a primary school is no place for the continuance of a large scale protest, however lawful."

The force received reports of assaults and criminal damage, with counter-demonstrators complaining they were egged after hanging up signs and placards on the school's gate, some of which read "love is the answer".

Police are also investigating malicious communications after headteacher Sarah Hewitt-Clarkson alleged she had been sent threatening messages.

The main organiser of the protests is Shakeel Afsar whose niece and nephew attend the school.

Mr Afsar has claimed demonstrations are continuing because the school is using "children as pawns" by teaching LGBT equality which over-emphasises a "gay ethos".

He rejected allegations the protests are anti-gay prejudice, claiming the school should respect the protesters' "moral beliefs".

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