'It's time for these protests to stop' - Hinds weighs in on Anderton Park LGBT education row

It is time for protests against teaching about LGBT relationships in schools to “stop”, the education secretary has said.

Damian Hinds has warned today that there is “no place for protests outside school gates” and warned the demonstrations can be “hijacked by individuals with a vested interest and no links to the schools”.

His comments come after a Birmingham school at the centre of the protests announced it is to close early tomorrow ahead of the half term break.

Anderton Park Primary School describes itself as a “rights respecting school”, but has been at the centre of an intensifying row over its equality teaching.

Matters came to a head last week when pro-LGBT activists were allegedly pelted with eggs and a voicemail message was sent to headteacher Sarah Hewitt-Clarkson accusing her of being a paedophile.

In a statement released today, Hinds said it is “unacceptable that children at Anderton Park are missing out on education because of the threat of protests”.

“I support and trust headteachers to make decisions in the interests of their pupils and it’s unacceptable that this school finds itself in a position where it feels it has no choice but to close early for the last day of term,” he said.

“It is time for these protests to stop.”

Hinds added that the Department for Education is working alongside West Midlands Police and Birmingham City Council to monitor the situation and encourage “further talks and dialogue” between the school and concerned parents.

Protests began outside several Birmingham schools earlier this year in response to concerns about “no outsiders”, a programme of LGBT lessons.

The programme, which teaches pupils about LGBT relationships and rights, was designed by Andrew Moffat, the deputy head of Parkfield community school, and had been used by other schools across the city.

Hinds has previously spoken out in support of heads who choose to deliver LGBT lessons, and they have been approved as ‘age-appropriate’ by Ofsted.

Parkfield and other schools have been forced to temporarily suspend the lessons following the demonstrations by anti-LGBT campaigners, with protests against sex education also reported in Manchester.

Birmingham City Council is currently weighing up its legal options to stop the protests. Nazir Afzal, a former leading prosecutor, has stepped in to try to mediate between schools and parents, but mediation between Anderton Park and parents has so far stalled over concerns about the protest leader.