Statement from Shabana Mahmood MP and Liam Byrne MP on Birmingham School Protests
It has been over three months since our city first made national headlines with regards to RSE. It was a challenging time for many people involved, most of all the children, for parents and for the LGBT+ community, and the escalation of increasingly confrontational behaviour outside a number of primary schools in Birmingham since that time is utterly unacceptable.
We have always believed that RSE should be taught in primary and secondary schools, and that we must engage with the issue raised about how faith and education intersect in modern Britain. To this end, we warmly welcome the announcement today by Council Leader Ian Ward of a new citywide process in cooperation with Birmingham City Council on the delivery of RSE, focussed on conciliation and understanding rather than conflict and recrimination.
Like many other Birmingham residents, we have been appalled by footage of orchestrated mobs shouting misogynistic and homophobic hate speech on the school run. We should all be absolutely clear that this is not a constructive form of debate. It is hateful, it is unacceptable, and has no place in our city.
We also put on the record once again our unequivocal support for any teaching staff who have been threatened or intimidated while trying to do their jobs.
Just as damaging is the ever-growing media circus touring primary schools across our city. We understand the press have a responsibility to report on developments in this story, but believe that this responsibility does not extend to providing media platforms to professional antagonists who do not represent most parents or any broader community.
It is clear that far from going away, the issue has become entrenched in the most damaging of ways. Today’s announcement is a positive step, and one we will engage with fully. As elected representatives for our city we have a responsibility to do all that we can to take clear action aimed at diffusing tensions and finding a solution, and ensuring that all our schools are once again places of learning, safety and joy.