We are deeply concerned that the primary school teacher Andy Moffat at Parkfield Community School in Birmingham is facing opposition to his pioneering and inspirational work in LGBT+ inclusion - work that has been lauded by parents, Ofsted and the school’s senior leadership. This work seeks to encourage acceptance and to celebrate difference, rather than to ‘promote’ a particular identity or lifestyle.
We believe in open discussion of issues relevant to our students’ lives in our schools. That is why we opposed Section 28 and why we have expressed such deep concern about Prevent. In 1988 Section 28 created censorship around issues relating to LGBT+ students and teachers. Today, Prevent discriminates against Muslim students and teachers and promotes a culture of ‘us’ against ‘them’. Both laws have created fear, discrimination and prejudice. We believe that it is right to unite to oppose all discrimination and promote safe spaces to discuss issues freely and honestly.
We recognise the need for children to learn about different kinds of relationship as part of their RSE (Relationships and Sex Education), and for them to understand that families and relationships come in all different kinds - all of which are to be celebrated and welcomed. It is of vital importance that children learn about the diversity of their communities, to foster an atmosphere of respect, acceptance and celebration of difference.
We stand in support of LGBT+ teachers and educators working with children, as well as LGBT+ school governors, parents and guardians who should also feel fully involved in the lives of the schools they support. We also believe it a fundamental right for LGBT+ educators to be ‘out’ at work if they wish, and to do their jobs without fear of recrimination, discrimination or disadvantage on account of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. This right is upheld by the Equality Act 2010
Our network will not accept the spreading of misinformation and fear-mongering which serves to split our communities apart. We know that when schools and their communities have an open and honest dialogue, and seek to learn about each other rather than to fear each other, we can develop a mutual understanding that benefits everyone - especially the children in our care. We call on everyone involved in the wider school community to engage in such a dialogue.
We do not believe it is right for children to miss out on RSE. This fundamentally contravenes the child’s right to a balanced education. Our aim as educators is to prepare children for the world they will live in as independent adults - and LGBT+ people are a significant part of that world.
Finally, we congratulate the educators at all levels within the school system and their allies who are making great strides in inclusive education. Progress in education is not inevitable, and it is these people who are making sure that our education system is fit for the 21st century. Long may you continue.Signatories:
Dr. Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary, National Education Union
Annette Pryce, LGBT+ Executive Member, National Education Union
Daniel Kebede, Black Executive Member, National Education Union
Dr Elly Barnes, Educate & Celebrate
Manoj Natha-Hansen, Black LGBT+ Educators Network, National Education Union
Sue Sanders & Antony Fenwick, Schools OUT & LGBT+ History Month UK
Kacey DeGroot, Co-Secretary, Trans and Non-Binary Educators Network
London LGBT+ Educators Network , National Education Union