LGBT lessons: police chief calls for end to Birmingham protests | Education
A police chief has said lawful or unlawful protests have no place outside primary schools after recent clashes over the teaching of LGBT lessons.
The chief constable of West Midlands police, Dave Thompson, said a number of criminal offences had occurred outside Anderton Park primary school in Birmingham since Sunday evening.
The force received reports at 9.30pm on Sunday of assault and criminal damage on Dennis Road in Moseley, as well as reports of malicious communications received by the school last Thursday.
Police were at the school on Monday after protesters claimed about 600 pupils were withdrawn from lessons.
Thompson said he had stepped in to express his increasing concern over the rhetoric of the protests.
“In recent months some Birmingham primary schools have been subject to protests by parents concerning the schools’ curriculum on equality,” he said. These had resulted in an ongoing protest outside Anderton Park primary school which had been lawful to date, and which the police had been monitoring, he said.
However, he added, several criminal offences had taken place in the last 24 hours, which police would investigate.
“As a citizen of this city, I have observed these protests and the rhetoric around them with increasing concern. West Midlands police values and celebrates the diversity of this area. We believe the strength of this city is in tolerant and diverse communities,” he said.
“Sadly, this is not the image of Birmingham that these events are projecting around the country and the world.”
He urged campaigners to consider the adverse impact their protests were having on “the reputation of the city, broader cohesion and, most importantly, the children at this school”.
“Views are entrenching with a determination to win this argument. This is creating an environment where those who seek division will have cause to celebrate and to exploit. Frankly, a primary school is no place for the continuance of a large-scale protest, however lawful.”
He added: “In this holy period of Ramadan, and as we celebrate Pride in our city, I urge those involved and those who can influence these events to think again and consider how they can come together to discuss these strongly held views and bring this protest to an end.”
He said the force could not solve the problem but it would support those seeking a solution. “Equally, we will act where people seek to exploit these matters and break the law.”
The West Midlands police and crime commissioner, David Jamieson, said: “Teachers should be free to get on with teaching a full curriculum, that highlights and explains Britain’s full diversity without fear of protests or threats. All forms of equality are equally important.
“As a former headteacher, I understand full well that schools need to work with parents and would encourage productive dialogue to continue.
“I must emphasise though that protests and threats have no place outside of the school gates and where there is evidence of criminality the police will be investigating thoroughly.”