Schools Minister Nick Gibb has said protests against the teaching of same-sex relationships at a Birmingham primary school are wrong.
He said that it was “bizarre and horrific” that protests are allowed to target those who teach what is “wholly appropriate in today’s society”.
Writing in the Times he backed a decision to secure an injunction against the protests at Anderton Park Primary.
Protests: School injunction reviewed next week
Background: City schools face LGBT protests
Bosses at education authority Birmingham City Council have taken high-court action following weeks of protests outside the school.
The protestors object to the school’s teaching pupils about LGBT families and relationships
But headteacher Sarah Hewitt-Clarkson has said that the lessons are age-appropriate and that the school is fulfilling its duty to promote equality.
Mr Gibb said he was speaking out today after the protests had led to such a bitter national political debate. He also revealed his shock at Ann Widdecombe’s suggestion that science could be used to change someone’s sexuality.
He said: “We live in a tolerant, liberal-minded society where the majority of people support gay marriage and are perfectly at ease with homosexuality. Thankfully, our country has moved on from the institutionalised bigotry of the past.
"It has taken time – more time than many of us had hoped – but we now have equalities law on the statute book that protects us all; regardless of our colour, ethnicity, gender, religion and sexuality.
“The protests outside a primary school in Birmingham which teaches the fact that same-sex relationships are normal and are as loving and supportive as any heterosexual relationship are in my view wrong.
"I support the city council’s decision to secure an injunction against those protests taking place near the school. It is bizarre and horrific that we allow protesters outside primary schools with placards to target those who teach what is legal and wholly appropriate in today’s society.”
Mr Gibb said that he and education secretary Damian Hinds had been working tirelessly behind the scenes to defuse the issues that lie behind the protests but he had now decided to speak out.
He added: “Since 2002, it has been legal for gay couples to adopt children and many have decided to start their own families. There is an increasing number of children who have two mothers or two fathers. A few weeks ago I went to a lovely wedding of two female friends attended by their nearest and dearest including a number of primary school age children.
"So, of course, children growing up in modern Britain need to be taught about the diverse society that they live in and the different types of loving, healthy relationships that exist.
“This is what lies at the heart of the new relationship education subject that will be compulsory in schools from September next year.
"Schools will be required to consult parents on the content of what is taught and what is taught must be age appropriate, taking into account the religious background of their pupils, but ultimately it is for the head teacher and the school to decide on the curriculum.”
A court is due to reconsider an injunction barring protests from taking place outside Anderton Park on Monday.
After the school was forced to close for half-term early, the city council asked a judge to impose an injunction at a High Court hearing while children were on holiday.
Mrs Justice Moulder made an order barring protesters from gathering outside or near the school, from distributing leaflets and from making offensive comments about staff on social media.
However, she said the injunction should be reviewed next week.