Parental Involvement in Teaching: Equality Act

Part of Petition - Closure of Heywood Crown Post Office – in the House of Commons at 3:05 pm on 25th June 2019.

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Photo of Roger Godsiff Roger Godsiff Labour, Birmingham, Hall Green 3:05 pm, 25th June 2019

No, I have given way on a lot of things.

Furthermore, the police who were present wore body cameras and were asked by the organisers of the protest to check whether any placards contravened the law. I understand that only one placard was deemed inappropriate at an early protest, and the people carrying the banner were told not to bring it again.

I make these points because I believe the parents have not had a fair chance to put their side of the dispute. They have been branded professional agitators, accused by a councillor of not having children at the school, called a “mob” and told that they are spewing out homophobic hatred. These mothers have been smeared, and the fact that the local Member of Parliament, having weighed up the evidence and listened to all sides of the argument, came to the conclusion that the people protesting had just reason to complain and protest merely added a target for the witch hunters and increased the lust for a sacrifice, irrespective of the facts.

I return to a couple of specific questions, which I supplied to the Minister before the debate. I ask these questions because I suspect many primary school head- teachers watching this debate, like their colleagues in Birmingham, want to know whether they are inadvertently contravening the law in how they impart the nine protected characteristics of the Equality Act to their pupils.

As I have said, 256 of 258 primary schools in Birmingham are, in different ways, ensuring that their pupils know when they transfer to secondary school that any form of discrimination, victimisation, prejudice or bullying of other people who fall within the nine protected characteristics is unlawful. They do this by engaging with parents to explain the nine characteristics; by having workshops about the individual characteristics; by having ongoing consultations with the parents and showing them the type of material they propose to use; and by engaging with parents about what age is most appropriate for the various characteristics.