Birmingham LGBT school row intensifies with teachers 'in tears' at gates as talks break down

Birmingham LGBT school row intensifies with teachers ‘in tears’ at gates as talks break down

The row surrounding LGBT relationships education at a Birmingham school has intensified after mediation broke down.

Talks between parents and staff at Anderton Park Primary School in Sparkhill have worryingly stalled, it has emerged.

Nazir Afzal, a former chief prosecutor for North West England, has been recruited to ensure dialogue remains open between mums, dads and teachers.

But the internationally renowned human rights lawyer told Sky News six weeks of discussions have been unsuccessful.

Anderton Park Primary School staff are breaking down in tears because of hostility at the school gates, he claimed.

Parents protesting outside Anderton Park School

He said: “I can’t think of any other way to get people round a table again than to speak to you and Sky.

“I’ve looked at the curriculum, there is nothing in the curriculum that is LGBT specific. There is nothing about gay sex.

“I’ve seen people walking around outside of that school with stuff that they have downloaded from the internet suggesting this is on the curriculum.

“This is what’s being taught to their children. It’s a lie. And this is what I’m dealing with.”

Meanwhile, a Birmingham gay Muslim activist, meanwhile branded the school protesters ‘disgusting’.

Khakan Qureshi, who runs a a social support group for LGBT Muslims, waded into the serious row about Anderton Park Primary School.

Parents and community activists have been campaigning against an LGBT-inclusive curriculum for seven weeks now.

Angry scenes at the gates have included crowds with loudhalers, and when a group tried to tie messages of love to the school gates they were allegedly bombarded with eggs and intimidated.


Mr Qureshi told BirminghamLive: “I think it’s disgusting behaviour… during the month of Ramadan.

“My big bug bear is that Muslims keeps saying that being gay is haram.

“Haram means forbidden things, bad things.

“If [the community] want us to be brothers and sisters, it’s about solidarity and support for each other, so how can you do that if you have conflict and barriers?”

Community activist, Khakan, launched ‘Finding a Voice’, a social support group for LGBT Muslims, back in 2014.

The project aim was to change attitudes towards South Asian and Muslim homosexuality. 

The idea was to socialise within the community and raise awareness and visibility.

The gay rights activist met the self-appointed campaign leader, Shakeel Afsar, on Monday: “He says he’s not homophobic but said he will campaign for this nationwide… he wants to abolish LGBT education.”

Khakan thinks Mr Afsar “loves the attention” and says the media are fuelling his ego.

Mr Afsar does not have a child at the primary school and was supposedly asked to front this campaign by his sister whose child is enrolled.

He is banned from school premises and has been issued with a community protection warning prohibiting him from attending the protests and using a loudhaler.

Though, since the warning was issued he has still been present.

Khakan, the founder of ‘Finding A Voice’, is mainly concerned that the children are being ignored in all of this and said: “Most importantly, no one has actually asked the children what they think and feel, and to me that’s heartbreaking.”

When asked about the other parents’ reluctance to speak with Headmistress Sarah Hewitt-Clarkson, he said: “I was trying to speak to the mums, but they said that Shakeel speaks for them.

“Some of these protesters are media savvy so they won’t admit they‘re homophobic.”

He said that the resolution is for the community to understand that someone can be gay and Muslim.

“There are LGBT people in the Muslim community and we want representation”.

Robert Godsiff, Birmingham Hall Green MP, said yesterday: “As a parent pointed out, some of these children are only just out of nappies.

“Is it age appropriate for them to have to engage with their own sexuality and also learn about other sexualities at that age? That is the issue.”

Former leading prosecutor, Nazir Afzal, offered to mediate the dispute between the school and parents.


The mediation, arranged by Birmingham City Council, has been postponed due to parents’ refusal to sit down and talk with the former barrister.

The protests are set to continue throughout this week.

Birmingham City Council is currently weighing up its legal options to stop the protests.

*Pupils at the Birmingham school at the centre of the LGBT education furore have written a powerful letter to campaigners – saying: ‘Please don’t lie to us’.

Sarah Hewitt-Clarkson, headteacher at Anderton Park Primary School , shared the note on Twitter amid long-running demonstrations outside the school gates.

Written by two young children at the school in Moseley , it reads: “We are unhappy because you are being rude to all of the students and teachers especially ar headteacher.

“So please don’t disturb us when we are trying to learn and don’t lie to us. Thank you, APS.”

Mrs Hewitt-Clarkson head has been slated by protesters angry about the school’s use of LGBT books and discussions.


Those rallying outside the school gates claimed the measures offended most of the school’s majority-Muslim parents.

Police were outside the school earlier this week after tensions ran high following a confrontation between the protesters and those supporting the school on Sunday night. There were also claims of parents keeping their children away from lessons .

Speaking to BirminghamLive previously, Mrs Hewitt-Clarkson said: “If someone is going to tell us that there are elements of the equality agenda that we just can’t talk about, then I think we have a constitutional crisis. It is a terrifying prospect.

“This is the thin end of the wedge.

“If we succumb to what parents demand on this particular issue, and agree not to mention LGBT equality to young children, what do we say if there is a far right parents’ group demanding we stop saying religions are equal, or black people are equal to white people? Where does it end?”

The head has been forced to defend her school’s reputation while supporting staff who have been “really hurt and stressed” by ongoing protests.

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