Parents who have protested against same-sex relationships education at a Birmingham primary school should realise they are living in Britain “and can’t break the law”, the former head of Ofsted has said.
Sir Michael Wilshaw, who led school inspections in England between 2012 to 2016, said calls to end the teaching of LGBTQ+ acceptance were at odds with the UK’s “liberal values”.
“These people who have these conservative views, sincerely held, have also got to accept they are living in this country with the values that this country holds,” Wilshaw told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Monday.
“They’ve got to understand [that] they are living in this country in a pluralistic society with liberal values that strongly believes that people should be treated fairly and equally.”
He added that, while parents can hold different views, they cannot break the law “and the law says people should be treated equally”.
“They need to balance those two issues and if parents are not teaching them to balance those two issues, schools have got to,” he said
Wilshaw’s comments came after four more schools in Birmingham followed Parkfield primary school in halting lessons on same-sex relationships after fierce opposition from some parents.
Parkfield’s “No Outsiders” initiative sought to teach pupils about diversity, but faced protests and pickets from people who were unhappy at the programme.
Last month, Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman backed Andrew Moffat, a Parkfield teacher who has been nominated for Global Teacher of the Year, for his efforts to promote inclusion.
Ofsted inspectors have concluded the lessons are “age-appropriate”.
The decision followed protests by parents outside Parkfield by Muslim parents as well as Christian groups.
Parent Fatima Shah told the Today programme: “It’s only about the way the Equalities Act has been taught, the way the LGBT side of it has been emphasised and promoted,. the way that the parents were not consulted [...] it doesn’t need to be taught the way that they are teaching it.”
West Midlands Police has confirmed it is investigating alleged homophobic graffiti at Parkfield, and that it was aware of social media posts showing protestors hurling abuse.
Leigh Trust, which runs the four additional schools, said it was stopping the programme at Leigh Primary School, Alston Primary School, Marlborough Junior and Infants School and Wyndcliff Primary School until after Ramadan in May.