‘Coordinated campaigns’ against LGBT lessons multiply

MPs sign pledge to support schools promoting equality amid ‘anxiety’ even in schools in areas that have not seen campaigns against LGBT content

Martin George

'Coordinated campaigns' about LGBT content in lessons are spreading, headteachers said.

Schools in a growing number areas are being targeted by “coordinated campaigns” attacking LGBT content is lessons, headteachers have warned.

And schools in areas that have not yet seen signs of such activity are becoming “anxious” about promoting equality and diversity, Tes has been told.

New areas where campaigns are said to have emerged against the LGBT content are said to include Cheshire, Rochdale, and the London boroughs of Enfield and Tower Hamlets.

Opposition had already been reported to have spread from Birmingham to Manchester, Oldham, Blackburn and Bradford.  

The concerns were raised following an NAHT headteachers' union meeting to brief MPs about relationships education, yesterday following high profile protests outside Anderton Park Primary in Birmingham.

Minister: Gibb condemns school protests

Heads: NAHT call for DfE to provide clarity on LGBT teaching

High Court: Ban on protests at school gates remains in place

The school's deputy head Claire Evans told Tes that being at the centre of the demonstrations was “utterly horrific”, and psychologists working at the school have been concerned about the effect on staff.

Rob Kelsall, a regional organiser for the NAHT, said the union had co-chaired meetings with the DfE about the issue in London, the North West and Yorkshire.

He said: “It is true to say that reports of coordinated campaigns against schools is well in situ in places like Bradford, Bolton, Kirklees, Leeds, Tower Hamlets.

“Enfield came through this morning. I could go on. There is a long list of local authority areas, and local authorities that are reporting to us that this is a growing problem that they can see.”

NAHT general secretary Paul Whiteman said had heard of such activity Bradford and Croydon, while Ms Evans told Tes: “We have heard that the leafleting and the letters and the WhatsApp groups have already spread to many parts of the country.

"There are many places in Manchester, in Oldham, in Cheshire, in Rochdale, who have reported receiving letters and leaflets.”

Jamie Barry, headteacher at Parson Street Primary in Bristol, said: “Even in cities where perhaps there aren’t indicators yet of orchestrated attempts to do infiltrate what’s happening, there is a lot of anxiety there.

“That’s a really difficult position for school leaders to be in, to be very anxious about doing something that’s government policy.”

He said that in Bristol, the local authority had organised a group to be pro-active in stopping such protests happening there.

Mr Whiteman said the briefing aimed to give MPs accurate information about relationships education in primary schools.

He said: “Their constituents, frankly, are coming to them concerned and frightened against the backdrop of not really understanding. They have been told these stories about these awful things that are happening in schools and parents believe it, and we need to be able to re-educate parents about what’s really happening.”

Following the briefing, 10 MPs who were present signed an NAHT pledge to “support education in all schools which promotes equality, enabling children to leave school prepared for life in modern Britain, understanding difference and respecting diversity”.

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Martin George

Martin George

Martin George is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @geomr

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