The introduction of the No Outsiders programme to schools in Birmingham has resulted in significant nationwide protests. The goal of the programme was to teach children about the protected characteristics in the Equalities Act 2010, including LGBT+ groups. Following its introduction, some parents objected to the content present in the lessons and, after talks with the school broke down, they began protesting outside the school. These protests have increased in size up until the present, with up to 80% of parents at the school withdrawing their children from the lessons.Most of the protesters at the school in question come from an Islamic background, and the protests have even spread to other schools.
Concerns amongst the protesters range from how these lessons will spread a version of morality not in accordance with their own, as well as that the lessons will somehow “proselytise homosexuality.” Parental opposition to the introduction of these lessons is based on the idea of “my child, my choice.” Parents reserve the right to remove their children from classes that they feel would be inappropriate or that they disagree with on a moral basis.
Parent’s personal religious beliefs form a critical part of their identity and it is important for many to pass these beliefs on, so that their children can live an upstanding moral life. For a society and the government to impose their beliefs on the children of the parents, this reeks of tyranny. However, in my opinion it is important to expose children to as wide a range of worldviews and systems of morality as possible. Ultimately, it will be up to them as free individuals to choose how to live, and neither their parents or the system of education should not restrict that. In this case it seems as though the parents are being more restrictive than the education system and our judgement on this case should reflect that.
The age at which these lessons are being given is also a matter of considerable concern for the protesters. The lessons are currently being given but there are additional plans to introduce sex education lessons for children from the age of five by 2020. Many believe that this type of content is best left to be taught at home or not at all and that the introduction of these lessons at such a young age would be inappropriate for children not mature enough to deal with such adult themes.
I believe that the concerns about these lessons being age appropriate are unfounded. The lessons within the programme are based on a book featuring two same sex penguins raising a chick as well as a dog that doesn’t quite fit in. This seems like a fairly reasonable first exposure to the nightmarish idea of a same sex couple raising a child.
The protesters reaction to the The proposed lessons contain significant emphasis on the need for consent. This is a very important topic given that over a four-year period there were almost 30,000 cases of children sexually abusing other children. In the modern day, it is vital to introduce children to these concepts as early as possible to ensure that they behave appropriately and know what to expect from others.
Most importantly, these protests can best be qualified as a colossal overreaction. to what is a minor change to the curriculum. Although it is important to take the parent’s concerns seriously, they are unfounded and they have managed to be hugely homophobic whilst protesting. To quote, “we do not believe in homosexuality but that does not make us homophobic.” Believing in homosexuality is as unnecessary as believing in gravity. It is well documented behaviour in the animal kingdom as well as a feature throughout human history. It was acceptable behaviour in Ancient Greece, the Roman Republic and the early Roman Empire, and became less socially acceptable with the rise of Christianity. Unfortunately for these protesters, they live in an age in the UK where homosexuality is a perfectly acceptable way to live your life. They are proudly bearing the flag of homophobia that bigots the world over have borne for millennia.