A tearful Angela Eagle has insisted that: “We are not going to get back in the closet”, as MPs debated a row over same-sex education that gripped two Birmingham primary schools for weeks.
The openly gay Labour MP for Wallasey today (June 25) challenged her Labour colleague Roger Godsiff during a House of Commons debate he tabled in the wake of weeks of protests at Anderton Park Primary School and Parkfield Primary School.
Both endured months of demonstrations from largely Muslim, but also Conservative Christian and Jewish protestors who took exception to their teaching on LGBT relationships.
Demonstrations on the doorstep of Anderton Park have since been quelled after the High Court issued an injunction last month – although protestors are crowdfunding to contest this.
Speaking in the Commons, Ms Eagle said: “Teaching about LGBT existence and relationships, and showing respect and legitimacy to all regardless of their sexual orientation, is something that has not been a feature of our school system for very long.”
“That is because of the odious and appalling effects of section 28 [of the Local Government Act 1988], which was passed in the 1980s in a circumstance that was very similar to some of the scare stories that we are hearing about the possible dire effects of simply teaching relationship and sex education in schools—something that we should have been doing generations ago.
She pledged not to “allow a generation of pupils who are now in school to go through what pupils in the 80s had to go through because this Chamber let them down.”
“We aren’t going to get back in the closet, or hide, or be ashamed of the way we are”
— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) June 25, 2019
What Is The Background To This Row?
Earlier this month Mr Godstiff was reprimanded by Labour chief whip Nick Brown after a video emerged of him agreeing with parent protestors from Anderton Park.
During today’s debate, he said that he “came to the conclusion that parents that were protesting had some valid reasons for doing so”, accusing Anderton Park Primary school headteacher Sarah Hewitt-Clarkson of seeming “totally unwilling to have meetings with the parents to address their concerns and to seek a compromise to resolve the conflict”.
He spoke of how 256 out of Birmingham’s 258 primary schools had been able to teach the protected characteristics set out in the Equality Act 2010 without prompting any complaints from parents.
Speaking of the other two schools, which have been dogged by protests, he said: “The common theme that links these two schools is that parents at both schools were neither consulted nor involved in how the nine protected characteristics were to be imparted to children.”
Nevertheless, he struggled to clarify the details of what about the curriculum at the schools that actually concerns parents, when probed by fellow MPs.
Roger Godsiff doesn’t represent Labour. His support for the school gate protesters in Birmingham legtimises their attempts to vilify LGBT+ people and stir up tension.
We’re calling on Labour MPs to attend his debate and show that Labour is committed to LGBT+ inclusive education. pic.twitter.com/OlkmJtajlv
— LGBT+ Labour (@LGBTLabour) June 25, 2019
Labour MP Stephen Doughty suggested the protests at the school were due to a small number of individuals “whipping this up, creating a myth and creating fear”.
The Cardiff South and Penarth MP said that individuals involved in the campaign in Birmingham had travelled to his constituency to stoke similar protests.
Featured Image Credit: Angela Eagle. BBC News.