A British high court has ruled that concerned parents will no longer be allowed to protest the introduction of LGBT awareness lessons at a Birmingham elementary school.
Birmingham City Council applied for an high court injunction to enforce an exclusion zone after parents began to gather outside the school, protesting the controversial new lessons.
The Council insists it applied for the injunction “after the serious escalation of the protests in the week before half-term,” which they say included the “attendance of very large numbers of people who have no children at the school, many of whom are not from the city.”
Despite many of the parents holding legitimate concerns about not being adequately briefed on the LGBT classes and not having any influence in the school’s decision to run the curriculum – many of the parents are from an Islamic background.
What are the protesters saying?
Those gathered outside the school are insistent that the children, some as young as four, are too young to be learning about complex issues of sexual identity. Many parents noted that their kids have become confused and asked questions like “why can’t I have two daddies?”
Speaking to the Guardian, a group of protesters explained that their children no longer wished to attend Anderton Park Primary School because of the pushy atmosphere surrounding the LGBT-inclusivity lessons.
“They’re upset. They don’t want to go,” the group explained. “Not because of the protest. Because the teachers are terrorizing them.”
“I will stress to parents – don’t back down. If you feel you are right, invoke your democratic rights,” said lead protester, Shakeel Afsar, following the ruling.
‘Mass Arrests’ possible
Shockingly, now that the injunction has been granted, the school’s principal, Sarah Hewitt-Clarkson, called for the arrest of anyone gathered outside the school to voice their opinions.
“Now the judge has granted the power of arrest, mass arrests are a possibility,” she told the Times. “Police are very keen not to arrest lots of people outside a primary school but they will have to work through that.”
Education secretary Damian Hinds also welcomed the court’s decision.
“It is not right to protest in front of schools – it is frightening to children and disrespectful to hard-working teachers,” he said. “This will allow children to return to school and parents to continue peaceful and constructive discussions with staff.”
He added: “I support and trust head teachers to make decisions in the interests of their pupils – parents should share their views and concerns, and schools should listen.”
Agreeing that parents should have limited influence in the education of their children, Hinds said that “what is taught and how is ultimately a decision for schools,” adding that “Consultation does not mean parents have a veto on curriculum content.”
“There is no reason why teaching children about the society that we live in and the different types of loving, healthy relationships that exist cannot be done in a way that respects everyone.”
In response to the ruling, imam and founder of Communities in Action, Ajmal Masroor, told the BBC that it is “people’s democratic right to protest,” and that “the city council can bring as many injunctions as they like but they cannot silence people’s discontent.”
The injunction prohibits any demonstrations outside the school, and also forbids any printing or distributing leaflets. Anyone who violates the ruling will be subject to arrest.
Protesters ‘may be sent to prison’ – Birmingham Police
“As police we have a duty to uphold the interim injunction and the power to arrest those who breach the conditions of the order – those found doing so may be sent prison,” said West Midland Police’s Commander for Birmingham East, Chief Superintendent Kenny Bell, in a statement.
“Our officers will continue to be present to prevent a breach of the peace while facilitating the right to protest,” Bell added, according to the Birmingham Mail.
“Teachers should be free to get on with teaching a full curriculum, that highlights and explains Britain’s full diversity without fear of protests or threats, added West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, David Jamieson.
“All forms of equality are equally important.”
The group of protesters are set to issue new plans on what course of action they are to take following the controversial court ruling.