by Belinda Brown, MercatorNet:
Earlier this year Muslim parents took to the streets to protest against a programme called “No Outsiders”, which, pre-empting the government’s new Sex and Relationships Guidance, informs children from reception upwards about LGBT relationships. The parents felt that what the children were learning clashed with their moral and family values, but the argument was quickly framed as Muslim intolerance and homophobia versus liberal love and acceptance.
While the Muslims have been listened to, they have not been taken seriously. In this and following articles I explore their concerns. My reading of No Outsiders has thrown up profound questions about how it relates to the vision we have for our society and our children’s future. My research suggests that British parents may find they have more in common with the Muslim parents than with the academics shaping our children’s educational resources.
Equality, diversity or a Trojan Horse?
No Outsiders started life as a half-million pound Economic and Social Research Council funded project entitled, “Researching Approaches to Sexualities Equality in Primary Schools”. It took in the work of 26 practitioner researchers spread out over 16 schools. They started out with four objectives but most relevant to my argument are the first two: “to add to the understanding of the operation of heteronormativity within primary school contexts” and “to develop effective means of challenging this heteronormativity”. (Atkinson et al. 2009).
In 2008 the No Outsiders team ran a university seminar called “Queering the Body: Queering Primary Education”. Despite obfuscation of their intent to “challenge heteronormativity”, this provoked some negative publicity and a parental backlash, as demonstrated here (Annex 3).