A rainbow coloured placard in the colors of the LGBT flag [Illustrative].
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Iran’s PressTV has jumped on the bandwagon of outrage in several UK cities, where mostly conservative Muslim parents have been protesting against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender lessons in schools. Iran’s far Right conservative regime appears to be the latest to spotlight a growing controversy in the UK, where religious groups have encouraged parents to keep kids home rather than have them exposed to lessons regarding equality and gay rights. As the protests grow, it may force people to grapple with both homophobia and Islamophobia, as tolerance for the two minority communities and their values clash.
The controversy began in March, when Birmingham primary school parents began to withhold their children from school in protest over an LGBT rights curriculum called “No Outsiders.” On March 5, primary schools in Birmingham postponed the program until after Ramadan due to protests. Another school, the Parkfield School, was also affected. According to reports, the program had already been active in the school for three years, but parents objected to LGBT content being provided to five-year-olds.
According to The Guardian
, school administrators had decided to suspend the lessons until “a resolution has been reached.” Up to 600 Muslim children from ages four to 11 had been withdrawn from the school due to the protests.
In late May, the protests spread beyond just a handful of schools. The BBC quoted one woman who opposed the protests, saying that, “It’s the fabric of British society that is at stake here, because the equality laws hold us together.” A teacher involved in teaching LGBT rights pointed out that 80,000 people turned out to support the Pride parade, and Birmingham was a place of tolerance.
But there is concern among parents that young children shouldn’t be exposed to LGBT issues. Protesters shouted “Our children, our choice” outside schools in May, and called on a head teacher to step down, according to the BBC – but also said their protest shouldn’t be labeled homophobic.
One man said that the schools were indoctrinating children. “They are expected to affirm, to celebrate, to embrace LGBT ideology, which is against the moral ethics of the many Abrahamic religions and faiths,” he said.
While some say the protests are motivated by religious extremism, the protesters say they will target up to 60 schools to stop the lessons. The Guardian
reported that “mostly female LGBT activists were pelted with eggs by men.”
The controversy in the UK has now become breaking news abroad. Iran’s PressTV has joined the bandwagon, but in an interesting way. Purposely not mentioning that the protests are about gay rights, PressTV – which is aligned with the far Right Iranian regime – said parents carried banners about how the “lessons are immoral.”
PressTV also says that “protests against schools teaching sexual material to students have spread to various cities across the UK, as Muslim parents become increasingly worried about a state program to normalize inappropriate lessons in the education system.” A second PressTV article says that a UK Muslim academic was targeted amid the protest: “A British Muslim psychologist recounts how she has been targeted due to her views on homosexuality.”
The controversy in the UK now risks pitting campaigners against homophobia, against those who may claim that condemnation of the parents is a form of Islamophobia. As state-sponsored media in more conservative states such as Iran begin to take an interest in this issue, the agenda may be to fan the flames of social tensions in the UK. For instance, PressTV says protests have spread to Manchester, Blackpool, Preston, Bradford and Liverpool. It is also symbolic of current struggles facing some Western countries, as they try to balance different minority groups and religious groups that object to sexual education for children.
Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>