Public schools

Parents, Not Government, Should Decide How To Teach Their Kids About LGBT Issues

A fight in England between educators and Muslims shows the need for more school choice, not control.


Gay Family
Iurii Golub /

"They need to be allowed to be children rather than having to constantly think about equalities and rights."

That's the explanation Fatima Shah has given for temporarily pulling her 10-year-old daughter out of school in Birmingham, England. She is one of apparently hundreds of Muslim parents who object to a newly developed school program to teach children the basics of LGBT issues.

Now some primary schools in England are suspending this program, called No Outsiders, developed by educator Andrew Moffat, in order to discuss the issue with parents who object to Moffat's curriculum. A petition signed by 400 parents calls for it to be dropped from the schools.

Here's more from Shah in The Guardian in January:

Shah claimed her children were becoming "confused" about homosexuality and that the local community's concerns were not being taken on board. She said: "We have nothing against Mr. Moffat – we are as British as they come. We respect the British values … but the problem is, he is not respecting our ethos as a community.

"We don't send our children to school to learn about LGBT. We send them to school to learn maths, science and English."

There are, of course, people who support and have defended the Moffat program, arguing that schools should continue the classes and require all children to attend them. I suspect these op-eds are much kinder and more respectful of the religious objections of Muslims than they would be of Christians.

But I'm not here to participate in the culture wars. Rather, I'd like to point out how poor a job the school system clearly did in engaging with these people when developing the program in the first place; the belief of government education bureaucrats that they are responsible for teaching students and their families to be "better" people; and the inability of many people in the education system to recognize what services parents actually want from them.

Shabana Mahmood, a member of Parliament for parts of the Birmingham community, explained that the parents she had spoken to weren't even against teaching children about LGBT issues. She herself has backed gay rights measures and voted in favor of same-sex marriage recognition. What she heard is that parents are uncomfortable with the early age at which this is all happening. They want these lessons to begin in secondary school, not when their kids are under the age of 10.

The fight is as loud as it is dumb and unnecessary. Learning about LGBT issues, families, and relationships is something that should be handled on the cultural level, not via standardized government lessons. Western nations have become far more accepting of LGBT people over the past 30 years, but it wasn't government that drove the change. Rather, it was a result of passionate activism and cultural engagement with the communities themselves.

Whenever there's a conflict between educators and parents about what children should be learning, there's a clear and obvious solution: school choice. This fight doesn't have to have winners and losers. Parents who want their children to learn about gay families at a younger age and parents who want their children to wait can both get what they want.

But that would require government officials and educators to see parents as customers, and accept that their business must be won, not assumed. And that's not very British at all.

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  1. “We don’t send our children to school to learn about LGBT. We send them to school to learn maths, science and English.”

    How was this woman not immediately thrown in prison? Is it because she’s Muslim?

    1. She sure enough got a pass; just earlier today I saw that a British journalist is being charged with a hate crime [punishable for up to two years prison] for using the wrong personal pronoun.

      1. Goodness, no, the police have merely requested an interview with the journalist. You get all melodramatic and play it out of proportion! /sarc

        The cops say: “A 44-year-old woman has been asked to attend a voluntary interview in relation to the allegation as part of our ongoing investigation.”

        And the complainant “said she had withdrawn her complaint partly because she did not want Ms Farrow to continue to have a platform.”

        Anyway, the suspect says she tries “really hard not to misgender people,”.so it’s just a little misunderstanding like with Winston Smith’s neighbor, who was really a good fellow who tried to adopt Newspeak.

  2. Let them fight.

  3. The notion that government institutions are there to “improve” the peons despite of themselves IS the Culture War, Mr. Shackford.

  4. Learning about LGBT issues, families, and relationships is something that should be handled on the cultural level, not via standardized government lessons.

    Question 1. Jennifer wants to remain a woman but identify as a man. What is the proper pronoun to use for Jennifer?
    a. Xhe
    b. Xe
    c. Xi
    d. Xir

    1. Jen X.

    2. e. All/any/none of the above.

    3. Reverse tranny?

      1. From Transylvania?

        1. The country or galaxy?

    4. Retard?

    5. It’s proper to stay the hell away from Jennifer because Jennifer is a fucking lunatic.

      1. What if she’s your supervisor?

        1. Reminds me of an SNL episode [when it was still funny and not gone the way of all such television shows] featuring Pat: “Funny how I’m your boss now.”

        2. Working for lunatics is risky, whatever gender or mental illness they have.

          Socially, these would be good people to avoid which isn’t that discriminatory since I generally avoid most people anyway.

    6. byatch.

    7. “Question 1. Jennifer wants to remain a woman but identify as a man. What is the proper pronoun to use for Jennifer?
      a. Xhe
      b. Xe
      c. Xi
      d. Xir”

      None of the above.
      The correct answer is: “it”

  5. There are so many problems ….

    Government IS NOT society. Society is whatever forms spontaneously from people interacting. Trying to force social changes with government just creates backlash and resentment, and is almost always counter-productive.

    Government is a sledgehammer and almost everything people want to use it on is fucked up as a result.

    This is not restricted to schools, LGBTQWERTY, or Muslims. It is everything government does. Even the people who say they want to use the government sledgehammer are exaggerating in their own minds and are not happy with the results.

    Government is a fucked up corrupt incompetent concept, and realization as a real entity is even worse.

    1. An excellent point, but socialists literaly can not see a difference which tells you a lot about public schools and the parents in this case.

  6. “They need to be allowed to be children rather than having to constantly think about equalities and rights.”

    ‘And by the way, we’re going back to Pakistan for a couple weeks – we have an appointment with a broken bottle.’

    There are no non-hypocrites in that story.

  7. In Australia, they “solve” the problem of not discriminating against various religions by giving taxpayer money to religious schools. After all, how’s it fair if taxpayers are paying money to support state schools but sending their kids to religious schools?

    Now that they have a lot of Muslims, and the taxpayers are funding Muslim schools that teach kids to memorize the Quran, etc., that’s suddenly a problem.

    Countries that don’t have First Amendment religious protections like we do face more problems than we do.

    1. Uhm, the US faced that same problems under W Bush – ‘Faith Based Initiative’. Everything was hunky-dory and everyone was behind it until the Muslims and Wiccans showed up with their hands out.

      And it still exists.

      And Trump has announced *a new* similar program.

      1. I think you might of misinterpreted which section of the First Amendment Ken is referring to. I don’t think he means the section that is interpreted as a separation between church and state. I think he means the “free exercise” clause which was used to expand educational choices in the US

    2. Well said. And don’t forget that the freedom to attend a private school and homeschool your children was only won in the US due to religious accommodation (from cases brought by Catholics and the Amish, respectively). So maybe people should reassess how God awful Gary’s “religious liberty is a blackhole” talking point truly was.

  8. of Mulsims than

    I can take you guys on as clients if you’re looking for a sub-editor.

  9. Good article. There are no bad guys in this story. People should be free to teach their kids as they see fit. People yucking it up because different levels of the intersectional pyramid are fighting miss the bigger picture. Live and let live.

    1. No. The bad guys are, as they nearly always are, the public school officials who think their job is to create social change rather than educate the population. Whatever you think of what they were teaching, it remains something that doesn’t belong in public schools at all.

      1. Ok, yeah. By default any public official is always the bad guy. I just meant that I don’t think that this lesson plan was meant to offend Muslims or other religious groups in the UK.

        1. Since it’s a well known fact what just about every sect of abrahamic faiths think about homosexuality, don’t be so sure. At best they simply didn’t think at all, at worst they’re teaching preteens about kinks. BDSM is a lifestyle, should it be taught to ten year olds in public school?

          1. Now that you’ve brought it up, I can remember things happening on the playground and at Scout events that would be considered BDSM if the participants had been adults…

            1. What kids do to kids is a bit different than school or Scout policy, but I find it odd that this particular kink is being upsold to kids. What about the poor beastiality folks or, for that matter, laws on incest that single out poor Pakistanis?

              1. Be patient.

          2. Did someone say Kinks?

  10. I suspect these op-eds are much kinder and more respectful of the religious objections of Mulsims than they would be of Christians.

    Excellent use of the dry British wit.

  11. “We don’t send our children to school to learn about LGBT. We send them to school to learn maths, science and English.”

    Whoaaaa there, problematic much?

    1. English? Don’t parents have a right to have their children educated in Cornish?

  12. I suspect these op-eds are much kinder and more respectful of the religious objections of Muslims than they would be of Christians.

    Well yeah. The Western oppressor vs the oppressed class from anywhere else.

  13. This is why the British and American left are going full anti-Semite. The truth is that Muslims and conservative Christians have a lot more in common with each other than Muslims will ever have with the left. A lot of Muslims should be voting Republican or Tory. The left is going full anti-Semite as a bid to try and prevent that.

    1. That can cut the other way. Muslims have a lot in common with radical feminists and trans activists, too. Did you know that the country with the highest rate of male-to-female transsexual surgery is Iran?

      1. I can’t speak for Iran, but American Muslims are not very down with trannies or gays. They tend to be very family and traditional values oriented. And they are also patriarchal as hell. So I can’t see how they could have a lot in common with radical feminists. Moreover, radical feminists hate transgenderism. So it is hard to see how anyone could have a lot in common with both.

        1. Muslims already know that the Left will come for them after they’ve finished off Christians. Maybe it’s the fault of conservatives for not trying to gain these Muslim voters. Electing a guy who campaigned on a “Muslim ban” I’m sure didn’t win any of them over.

          1. Muslim political leadship are hoping to get to the caliphate before then, perhaps. I know for a fact some of their internal groups hope for that, like CAIR. Not that there aren’t analogous groups in other faiths, but it is what it is…

            1. CAIR is not representative of all Muslims. American Muslims who are not ghettoized or always viewed as foreign, like they are in Europe, are not supportive of any caliphate, because they have it pretty good in the US. We are not like Europe. We are not a reactionary country like the illiberal government of the UK. Non-leftists can win the vote of Muslims if they only dropped their hang-ups about that population. And they use to too. George fucking W. Bush (the man who was bombing the Middle East) won around half of the Muslim demographic in the US. Imagine if an anti-war, pro-religious liberty libertarian or Republican tried to court these voters?

              1. I wasn’t saying they represent all Muslims, and I mentioned their faith isn’t alone in that reguard. There isn’t anything you can say about Muslims that wasn’t claimed about Hispanics in terms of what party we might estimate they would vote for. Those estimates are blind idiot guesses, at best.

        2. Many Muslims view transgender women as a third gender. That’s why they can say there are no gay men. They see gay bottoms as women trapped in the bodies of men. Then there are cis-gender women ( for one on one with a man, or she can bring a friend to join, or you might just watch her and her friend … it’s all good ), straight men such as my brother who hook up with a transgender woman, and your standard straight and bisexual tops who don’t need strap-ons, because they were born with that equipment.

          It’s the LBfSfTfM alliance where the Men get plenty of options.

    2. Zionism within the Republican Party drove American Muslims to the Democratic Party. This is Ironic, because the Muslim-majority countries near Israel become friendlier with Israel each year as they see that there’s no strong foreign nation willing to keep stopping the wars and terrorism that keeps spreading in the region.

  14. Eliminate public schools. Problem solved.

  15. The lesson here is if you want to beat the government back on any issue align with a Moslem group that also objects and make them the spokesmen.

    1. It is something that the usual type and amount of vitriol hurled at people objecting to such social liberal projects is not happening here.

    2. make them the spokesmen.

      And make damned sure it’s a woman.

      1. With a hijab but not a burkha, don’t want to go overboard.

        1. The local convenience store clerk’s sister makes thousands of dollars a month working from home signing statements against political correctness. Learn how at www dot rent a Muslim dot com.

          1. That’s got to be like 7.5 out of 10 on the offensiveness scale, though it’s actually a satirical point with a real-world message.

            1. More offensive than Hindu dot com?

              1. *facepalm*

    3. The lesson here is if you want to beat the government back on any issue align with a Moslem group that also objects and make them the spokesmen.

      Unless she insists on purging the Zionists from the group before the meeting can begin.

  16. “But I’m not here to participate in the culture wars.”

    The culture wars are here to participate in you.

  17. Shackford makes the mistake of assuming this skirmish in the Cultural War is merely a minor, government-created misunderstanding that will not be repeated, not a harbinger of what is to come.

    In the not-too-distant future British LGBTQ folks are going to wake up one morning and find out those weak-kneed, pliant Christians who meekly turned the other cheek have been replaced with assertive, not-so-friendly Muslims who demand submission to their ideas of morality.

    Actually, this event suggests that day is already dawning.

    If anyone thinks that flaming Pride Day parades with nearly naked men riding floats shaped like penises are going to fly in the New Muslim Britain, well I’ve got a bridge to sell you.

    1. The Brooklyn Gay Pride Parade is more modest than the Manhattan Gay Pride Parade. The most important thing is for same-sex couples to be able to publicly announce their relationship status without fear, because closeted relationships do not work well.

      1. The Atlanta gay pride parade has an amazing amount of corporate sponsorship

        1. Corporations trying to appeal to gay people and gay sensibilities? Wow, when did this start happening?

  18. This is a case where we should recognize the difference between tolerance and acceptance. A school has to ensure that LGBT students are tolerated, meaning they don’t endure the type of harassment that was once common in American schools. Acceptance is a positive affirmation that you don’t see anything wrong with something. Tolerance is when you do not harm others over something regardless of how you feel about it.

    Both Jewish and Muslim parents in the UK have objected to the new guidelines, although the Chief Rabbi of the UK endorsed a book that complies with the policy. Both religions respect privacy regarding family matters including parenting and dating. It’s possible to write guidelines that cite privacy as a reason to not criticize another kid’s family or ideas about family.

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