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Shabana Mahmood MP criticised for stance on Birmingham school in row over LGBT-bullying lessons
By Barfi Culture Team
5th March 2019

The Birmingham MP Shabana Mahmood was criticised heavily on social media today, notably by many British Muslims, for her stance on a row at a Birmingham school over LGBT lessons.

Parkfield Community School, in Saltley, Birmingham, has been piloting a program called 'No Outsiders' which teaches children about LGBT equality and challenges homophobia.

Earlier this year, Fatima Patel pulled her son out of the school, telling the local media: "It's inappropriate, totally wrong. Children are being told it’s OK to be gay yet 98% of children at this school are Muslim. It’s a Muslim community. I’ve taken my daughter out and other parents have too. Enough is enough."

She also waved leaflets, sent to other parents, that said: "Brothers and sisters, is it OK for your children to be gay?"



The row has grown after other parents followed suit and last week pulled their children out of school for a day. The school has now halted the program until after Easter.

Last week the Labour MP Shabana Mahmood made a speech on behalf of parents who wanted to pull their children out of school. That video went viral on social media today.




But her comments attracted a host of criticism.






The Muslim writer and journalist Yasmin Alibhai Brown tweeted: "Muslim parents in a Birmingham school dont want their kids to learn about gay love and sex. When are British Muslims going to talk about and deal with the embedded homophobia in our families and communities?"




The journalist Owen Jones tweeted: "This, from a Labour MP, is absolutely shocking. The parents at this Birmingham school are trying to stop lessons educating pupils about the existence of gay people. To suggest that isn't "age appropriate" is the same argument used to justify Section 28. You should apologise."

FAQ: Are the parents concerns real?


There seems to some confusion over the program itself. Its aim is not to 'promote homosexuality' as some parents have alleged, but to stop children bullying others on the basis of their sexuality or choice. The program aims to tell children its OK for others to be gay and they shouldn't be bullied over it.

FAQ: Are children being taught about homosexuality at the age of 5?


No, this is just flat out wrong. The program is part of SRE (sex and relationships education), which starts at the age of five. The main aim of SRE is to promote physical and mental health, staying safe on and offline, and the importance of healthy relationships.

In primary school students are taught in an age appropriate way primarily about healthy friendships and family relationships. Only in secondary school do they start covering intimate relationships.

Backlash


Shabana Mahmood today released a follow-up statement, saying she had always stood up for LGBT rights, but her concern was primarily about the process.

"And nowhere have I said that RSE should not be taught to kids – because I don’t believe it shouldn’t be. Nowhere have I said that LGBT relationships should not be taught – because that’s not my position. Nowhere have I called for a return to the days of Section 28 – because that law was a dehumanising stain rightly removed by a Labour Government."

...

"They felt that they had not been engaged with by the school prior to the new RSE curriculum being launched, and also felt that the Government guidance in place was not being followed as it should."

BUT its hard to say this is just about process when parents are waving around leaflets asking, "is it OK for your children to be gay?"





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