Education Team Assistant, Emily Bourne, explains what you can do as a parent if you are concerned that your child’s school will be celebrating LGBT History Month over the coming weeks.
It is widely known that in June every year, many institutions, including schools, celebrate Pride. Around that time, we usually get an increase of calls and emails from concerned parents about Pride themed events that the school seemingly requires children to participate in. We have previously warned about the dangers of Pride in schools and explained what parents can do to pushback.
But in the last few days we have had parents contacting us, not about Pride, but about LGBT+ History month.
LGBT+ History month began in the early 2000s, partly in response the abolition of Section 28, and it has become a month-long annual celebration of LGBT+ rights and related civil rights movements. It is the aspect of ‘celebration’ which is more problematic as, increasingly, some schools are taking the opportunity to go beyond simply teaching historical facts and are actively promoting sexual identities for children across many areas of the curriculum under the guise of diversity and tolerance.
So what can you do as parent if you have concerns about LGBT History month in your child’s school? Below, you can find a round-up of some of our resources to help you to challenge the teaching of LGBT ideology in your child’s school.
Engage with the school
As far as possible, particularly when you first become concerned, try to engage with the school in the least confrontational way. You should try and find out exactly what types of events or lessons are happening on which days and how teachers are planning on teaching the content.
You could ask for an informal meeting with the headteacher or class teacher and request to see lessons plans and resources on the topics being discussed.
At this point, you may want to find out if any other parents are similarly concerned. The more letters, or formal complaints a school receives, the more seriously they must take the concerns raised.
Know what the law says
The Equality Act specifically exempts the schools’ curriculum from its scope of influence and no part of the Equality Act requires the teaching of LGBT elements. Just in the last few days, the government has clearly stated that primary schools are not required to teach LGBT content. They can choose to teach it in an age-appropriate way, but this must be after a proper consultation with parents and always taking into account things like the age and religious background of the pupils.
Schools are required to be politically neutral and, depending on exactly what is being taught and how, events and homework related to LGBT History month could be seen as politically charged. Even Ofsted has acknowledged that increasing political sensitivities surrounding LGBT issues mean school staff can – sometimes even inadvertently – bring political materials into their curriculum and teaching.
Write to the headteacher
We have previously encouraged parents to write to the headteacher of your child’s school if you are concerned by any aspects of what is being taught, especially when it comes to Relationships and Sex Education (RSE). The law does vary across the UK so we have written about how where you live affects what your children are taught when it comes to RSE. You can download letter templates to write to the Headteacher, or another relevant staff member, to ask to see what materials are being used and how they are used during lessons.
You may wish to adapt this letter, in light of LGBT History month, to find out if this will be affecting your child’s school. Relevant points you could make with regard to this issue are:
- Primary schools are not required to teach LGBT content.
- Schools are required to ensure that, in developing their policies on these issues, that they engage parents and provide examples of the resources they plan to use in lessons. There is an expectation that schools respond positively where parents ask to see specific materials, for example by inviting parents into the school to view materials where Copyright Law prevents them from sharing it online.
- Authorities must respect the rights of parents to raise their children in accordance with their own religious or philosophical beliefs. This right, guaranteed by the Human Rights Act, requires that school’s teach material in a way which is objective, critical and pluralistic.
- Political neutrality is required in schools by the Education Act 1996 (sections 406 and 407). Some LGBT Groups which produce resources for schools to use are overtly political. For example, Stonewall routinely releases election manifestos and whilst, as campaigners, they have every right to engage in the democratic process, to suggest that LGBT History Month, Pride and other forms of LGBT symbology or education is politically neutral is demonstrably false.
- Guidance issued by the Department for Education in September 2020 prohibits the promotion of partisan political views in the teaching of any subject and states that schools should exercise “extreme caution” when working with external agencies that produce materials suggesting that non-conformity to gender stereotypes should be seen as synonymous with having a different gender identity. If Stonewall or other organisations are being invited into your child’s school to speak in assembly or lead a lesson during LGBT History month, you should inform the headteacher of the above guidance.
If, after writing the school, you are unsatisfied with their response, you may wish to activate a formal complaint. The process for this will be outlined in a policy document on the school’s website. If at any point you need advice from our education or legal team, please do contact us.
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