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  1. ITV Report

Birmingham Council takes out injunction stopping parents protesting against LGBT lessons outside schools

Credit: BPM Media

ITV News understands Birmingham Council has successfully taken out an injunction to prevent parents standing outside school gates to protest against inclusion of LGBT families in relationships education.

It comes after weeks of demonstrations outside the gates of a Anderton Park Primary School in Sparkhill on Dennis Road.

The interim injunction protects "the area immediately surrounding Anderton Park Primary School from further protests of the kind that have been held in the street outside the school for the last few weeks", the council said

Cllr Ian Ward, Leader of Birmingham City Council, 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.

"This interim injunction has been secured in time for the return to school on Monday (3 June) and now hopefully the pupils will be able to continue their education in peace for the remainder of the summer term.

"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."

ITV News Political Correspondent Paul Brand said the teaching of LBGT relationship issues had created rising tensions in the area.

On Sunday 23rd May police were called after counter-protesters were reportedly egged while putting up banners in support of the school.

On Tuesday (21 May), West Midlands Police Chief Constable David Thompson called for a halt to protests, and for fresh talks between school leaders and some parents who have objected to elements of Anderton Park's relationship education.

Protesters claim they are not homophobic or against LGBT rights - but do not want their children to be told it is OK to be gay, or learn that some families have two mums or two dads.

One of the protestors named in the injunction is Shakeel Afsar has tweeted a video in response to the injunction.

West Midlands Mayor, Andy Street said: "I am pleased that decisive action has been taken so children can go to school in a normal environment. Disappointing that it ever got to this point."

I remain committed to working with the school, local and national leaders in finding a permanent solution."

– West Midlands Mayor, Andy Street

The Head Teacher of Anderton Park Primary, Sarah Hewitt-Clarkson, spoke to ITV News Central via a mobile phone.

Speaking previously, protester Atia Khan said parents felt children were getting more information at school than at home, and because parents did not know what was being said they were unprepared to answer their children's questions.

Ms Khan said: "They are talking to them about gay and lesbian, it puts ideas into their heads when they should just be thinking like children."

One man, who said he lived locally but did not have children at the school, said: "Our children go to school to learn maths and science, not learn this rubbish. They will have no future if they don't learn the right things."

He added: "They should be left to be kids." Another protester at an earlier protest was Abdul Ghaffar. He said his children went to other local schools but he lived locally and owned a bed shop nearby.

Mr Ghaffar: "My six-year-old son came home from school and said to me: 'Could I be gay?' I was shocked. It's not right."

When asked how he had responded to his son, Mr Ghaffar said: "I told him if that was the case he need not come back home. He's not having my title. I told him if I had been gay he would not be here."

Last week one protester, interviewed on television, said that being LGBT was "not acceptable in Islam".

"God created man, then he created women for man's pleasure and companionship - not another man," he said.

The school's head teacher, Sarah Hewitt-Clarkson, responded on Twitter: "Not this woman, or any of the women in my school, or any of the girls. "This is why we have laws on equality. What shameful words and behaviour that have been invited onto the pavements of my lovely school."

Credit: BPM Media

Birmingham City Council has stood with the school through the protests.

Cllr John Cotton, cabinet member for communities, said: "These views are despicable, discriminatory and sexist. The people voicing them so noisily do not speak for Birmingham or any of its communities.

"We reject their prejudice and intolerance. I will leave no stone unturned in this fight and together we must stop this."

Yardley MP Jess Phillips also added: "This school is minutes from my home and these people are miles away from representing the people where I live. Love and tolerance will out but only if we stand against hate."

Moseley Labour councillor Kerry Jenkins said the head teacher had the full support of the city council, and the school was merely fulfilling its legal duties under the Equality Act.

Secretary of State for Education Damian Hinds said he welcomed the High Court's decision to grant Birmingham City Council an interim injunction and added: ''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.

“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."