Protests against primary school’s LGBT lessons to continue

Parents, children and protesters demonstrate outside Parkfield Community School

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Protesters demonstrating against the teaching of LGBT relationships at a primary school have vowed to continue action despite calls from police to stop. 

Calling for dialogue, Dave Thompson of West Midlands Police said he had watched with "increasing concern" as a group of protesting parents have gathered outside the gates of Anderton Park Primary School in Birmingham.

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

Despite the comments, the main organiser of the protests has said demonstrations will go ahead this week unless the approach to relationship education is halted for further talks with the school.

Mr Thompson added that on Sunday night there had been a "number of criminal offences" which had taken place near the school in Dennis Road, Moseley.

The force received reports of assaults and criminal damage at about 9.30pm on Sunday.

It came after counter-demonstrators were reportedly egged, after hanging up signs and placards on the school's gate, some of which read "love is the answer".

West Midlands police is also investigating malicious communications after headteacher Sarah Hewitt-Clarkson alleged she had been sent threatening messages, as seven weeks of protests have dragged on.

Anderton Park Primary School in Birmingham

The city council has also said it is looking into whether it can use a public space protection order to move demonstrations away from the school.

Councillor Ian Ward, the leader of the local authority, said: "It's one thing for parents to ask questions about elements of a school curriculum.

"It's quite another for others to pounce on the situation as an excuse to peddle hatred and misinformation."

On Monday, the protesters claimed 600 pupils were withdrawn from lessons by the parents, after counting the numbers of students going onto the premises.

The main organiser of the protests is Shakeel Afsar whose children do not attend the school, but his niece and nephew do.

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

He added: "The parents in school feel, first and foremost, the children are too young, and second that it is counter to their moral and ethical values."

He has rejected allegations the protests are homophobic, claiming the school should respect the protesters' "moral beliefs".

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