Protesters against LGBT teaching banned from gathering outside Birmingham school

Parents, children and protestors demonstrate Credit: Aaron Chown/PA

Protesters against LGBT lessons who have been gathering outside a Birmingham primary school have been banned from the area by a High Court injunction.

Birmingham City Council made the application following several weeks of protests outside Anderton Park Primary School in the city.

Citing “increasing fears for the safety and well-being of the staff, children and parents”, the council said it pursued legal action after the situation had become “too serious to tolerate”.

The interim injunction covers the streets immediately surrounding the school and prevents protesters printing or distributing leaflets, inviting others to protest and encouraging people to congregate at the entrance.

According to the order published on the council’s website, it also prohibits social media being used to make offensive or abusive comments about staff members.

Those protesting against LGBT teachings will have a chance to make their case to a judge on June 10.

Demonstrators have continued to gather outside the school in Dennis Road despite criticism from authorities including the council and police.

The head teacher announced the site would close for half term early last week over safety fears.

Leader of Birmingham City Council Councillor Ian Ward said: “I’m pleased that common sense has prevailed because children right across Birmingham should be free to attend school safely and without disruption.

“All our schools must be safe spaces and we will not tolerate the ongoing intimidation of parents, hard-working school staff and local residents.

“We’ll continue to support the school and its staff and I would urge parents to take this opportunity to engage in constructive dialogue with the school about any concerns they may have.”

Education secretary Damian Hinds has previously issued a fierce condemnation of the demonstrations, calling them “unacceptable”.

Following the High Court injunction, Mr Hinds said: “I welcome the High Court’s decision to put this injunction in place.

“It is not right to protest in front of schools – it is frightening to children and disrespectful to hard working teachers.

“This will allow children to return to school and parents to continue peaceful and constructive discussions with staff.

“I support and trust head teachers to make decisions in the interests of their pupils – parents should share their views and concerns, and schools should listen.

“However, what is taught and how is ultimately a decision for schools. Consultation does not mean parents have a veto on curriculum content.

“There is no reason why teaching children about the society that we live in and the different types of loving, healthy relationships that exist cannot be done in a way that respects everyone.”

A spokesman for NAHT, the trade union serving school leaders, said: “We welcome this decision, as it brings much needed respite for the pupils and staff at Anderton Park.

“Credit is due to Birmingham City Council for supporting the school in seeking the exclusion order.

“The important thing now is for the Government to give clarity so that no more schools are faced with the kind of demonstrations that we have seen in Birmingham.”

Anderton Park head teacher Sarah Hewitt-Clarkson told BBC2’s Newsnight:  “It’s a step forward from a judge who has looked at the evidence and said that it [the protest] doesn’t appear to be peaceful. This is causing harm and distress.

She added: “We have always had dialogue, every school has had dialogue. This was thrust upon us from almost nowhere – we have been talking about this since 2010 … we continue to have dialogue.

“There is a way to deal with it. The Equality Act is an excellent law that protects people from nine protected characteristics and LGBT is one of them.

“There is a public sector duty placed upon me to teach this as with all public sector workers.”