Birmingham & Black Country

LGBT people 'never felt more vulnerable' in Birmingham

Parkfield school protest
Image caption Protesters outside Parkfield Community School said lessons on same-sex relationships were not age appropriate

People who identify as LGBT say they have "never felt more vulnerable" in Birmingham, following protests against same-sex relationship education.

Some Muslim parents have been protesting since January against the No Outsiders programme at Parkfield Community School in Alum Rock.

A West Midlands Police officer said the protests did not constitute a hate crime despite coming "very close".

Some members of the LGBT community were critical of the protests' policing.

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Media captionSaima Razzaq from equality campaign Supporting Education of Equality and Diversity in Schools, or 'SEEDS'

More than 100 people attended an open meeting on Thursday in Birmingham's gay village, the majority of whom agreed they felt increasingly threatened, anxious and frightened.

Birmingham LGBT said it had recorded a rise in hate crime. However, Insp Matt Crowley said protests outside Parkfield school did not constitute a crime, despite coming "very close to that line".

He said policing "hadn't been perfect" but the force took hate crime "very seriously".

Image caption Deputy head teacher Andrew Moffat said the school was "simply teaching children about different families"

For several weeks, parents, mostly of Muslim faith, have been calling on the school to scrap the programme that teaches children about same sex couples through story books.

They said they believed the subject was "undermining parental rights and authority" and said the lessons were "toxic" and "disgusting".

Ann Sawyer and Saima Razzaq have organised meetings with some of the parents as part of the Supporting Education of Equality and Diversity in Schools, or 'SEEDS', campaign, which was set up in response to the protests.

Ms Sawyer said: "Hate comes from ignorance and we've been trying to dispel that ignorance by sharing our lives."

"Clearly there were bigots, but it's pitting two marginalised communities against each other," Ms Razzaq added.

"Conversations are just starting, it's going to take many years."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption At one protest, Fatima Shah spoke on behalf of the protesters, saying: "Our children, our choice"

Four other Birmingham schools have also stopped teaching No Outsiders following complaints by parents.

The city's Anderton Park Primary School - which does not teach the programme - was the scene of a ninth day of protests on Thursday by parents concerned about the teaching of LGBT issues.

Action has also spread further afield, with parents in Greater Manchester saying they will remove their children from sex and relationship lessons over fears they will be taught about same-sex couples.

Ch Insp Sarah Tambling told Thursday's meeting police "are not the right people to sort this out - there needs to be a partnership".

She apologised to the group, the majority of whom raised their hands when she asked whether they felt increasingly vulnerable in Birmingham.

Andrew Moffat, Parkfield school's deputy head teacher who devised the No Outsiders programme, said the school was now re-engaging with parents and a meeting had been held on Thursday afternoon.

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