LGBT school protests continue outside exclusion zone

First demonstration is held since a court backed exclusion zone at a Birmingham primary school came into force

Tes Reporter

Protests against LGBT teaching have continued outside an exclusion zone

Protesters campaigning against LGBT equality teaching in a primary school have held their first demonstration since a court-backed exclusion zone came into force.

Around 40 people, some holding banners, gathered outside the zone on an area of grass around 100 metres from Birmingham's Anderton Park Primary School, which has seen a string of protests directly outside its main entrance for around two months.

An interim High Court injunction secured by Birmingham City Council on Friday last week has banned demonstrations taking place within a specified area covering neighbouring roads.

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The court order bars those objecting to the use of particular relationship education materials from protesting inside the zone.

Speaking to the crowd at the latest demonstration on Friday afternoon, main organiser Shakeel Afsar said a silent protest would be held at a court hearing to challenge the order on Monday.

Addressing the protest, which was cut short by heavy rain, fellow campaigner Shaida Rashid read a statement accusing the city council and the school of acting unjustly to "silence" parents.

Ms Rashid told the protest: "As mothers we spent sleepless nights while raising our children. Now additional restless nights are being inflicted on us with a worry about their innocence being taken away.

"This is not only an attempt to silence parents but to take away our parental rights."

Calling for consultation between the school and the protest group, Ms Rashid added: "Many parents have been in tears when confronted with the school's unwillingness to speak to them on this important issue.

"All we are saying is talk to us – don't make us be outsiders when it comes to our children's education."

The school's headteacher Sarah Hewitt-Clarkson had labelled the protests "toxic and nasty" and signalled the intention to pursue an injunction, following repeated protests, before it was granted on Friday.

School standards minister Nick Gibb spoke out about the situation yesterday saying it was "bizarre and horrific" that schools were facing protests for teaching what is “wholly appropriate in today’s society”.

West Midlands Police, whose chief constable had called for an end to the mega-phone led demonstrations outside the school gates, has said it is investigating malicious messages sent to the head.

Birmingham City Council said it decided to make an urgent application for an injunction only after careful consideration and in the light of "increasing fears for the safety and wellbeing of the staff, children and parents" at the school.

The local authority described protests before a half-term break as a "serious escalation" involving very large numbers of people who have no children at the school.

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