Kids shouldn't have to walk past protests to get to school, says education minister

Kids shouldn't have to walk past protests to get to school, says education minister
News
Posted on 21 May 2019

Education Minister Damian Hinds has said that children and teachers should not have to walk past protests on their way to school.


Mr Hinds was speaking following incidents which occurred outside Anderton Park school in Birmingham on Monday. 

The predominantly Muslim school has been on the receiving end of protests from parents and demonstrators who view the LGBT lessons being taught by the school as inappropriate and a form of social engineering.


The lessons row have taken an ugly turn at Anderton Park this week, with police being called to the premises as tensions mounted.

Speaking to Sky News, Mr Hinds said: "I want schools and parents to be talking about these things.


"We have come a long way actually and from next year and the year after, we are going to have relationships education as a mandatory subject in primary schools.

“It's about 20 years since we updated the guidance on relationships and sex education and a lot has changed in that time.”


Addressing the demonstrations, Mr Hinds said: “We live in a society where we have a legal framework that rightly protects different people through society and recognises, celebrates the fact that people are different.

“Of course it's also true that religion itself is a protected characteristic under the equalities legislation, but it is important that in school, children are growing up knowing about modern Britain, knowing about the country in which they are going to become adults.


“There is really good dialogue going on in Birmingham and elsewhere and I want that to continue."

Explaining the Government’s stance on the LGBT lessons issue, which has put it into conflict with parents, Mr Hinds said: "What we're doing is we're making sure all children growing up have an opportunity to find out about and discuss the reality of our society.


“You can have a child in your class who has same-sex parents, you can have children who have two parents, children who have single parents, children who come to school with their grandparents, children who are with foster carers - all sorts of different families.

“I think this is a thing not only to recognise but to celebrate. It's good to be talking about it.


“Kids should be able to come to school, they shouldn't have to walk past protests... teachers shouldn't have to walk past protests to come to school."

Although much of what happened outside Anderton Park school on Monday remains unclear, there were claims of a resident’s car being pelted with eggs by people wearing masks, and of a petition being signed by hundreds of people demanding the resignation of Ms Hewitt-Clarkson and an end to equality teaching.


Labour MP Jess Phillips was also involved in a clash with an anti-LGBT protester outside the school, during which Ms Phillips made it clear that she would be asking the council to set up an exclusion zone so that children could get to and from school safely.

Hours earlier a group of mostly female LGBT activists were allegedly egged as they put up pro-LGBT messages,  banners and rainbow. 


Campaigners have also claimed that around 600 pupils at the school were kept at home on Monday in protest at the LGBT lessons.

It’s emerged that Ms Hewitt-Clarkson has received threatening emails and phone calls as a result of the LGBT lessons controversy.


Police are investigating the matter.

Speaking to the BBC, Ms Hewitt-Clarkson said of the protests: “There's a whole variety of emotions: embarrassment for lots of our community and our parents who think this is just awful what's happening; frustration that it's going on so long; frustration that great British laws like 'you can protest peacefully' actually are causing us a problem.


"It's interesting what a normal person on the street would think ‘peaceful’ means and what actually is peaceful outside here.”


 

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