‘I feel caught in the middle’: queer Muslims on the LGBTQ lessons row

Mar 31, 2019 by

Parents have been protesting over relationship education, saying it is incompatible with their religious values. Where does the row leave gay Muslims?

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For the past month, a primary school in Birmingham has been the site of a battle over education, religious values and LGBTQ rights. Parkfield community school had begun using the No Outsiders programme, which runs alongside relationship and sex education classes, which led to hundreds of parents withdrawing their children from classes.

The school says the lessons are age-appropriate and teach tolerance for different races, genders and sexual orientations. But critics complained that the programme “promotes” gay and transgender lifestyles to children. Sir Michael Wilshaw, the former chief of Ofsted, has now said that the school should reinstate the lessons.

The creator of the programme, the school’s assistant head, had already resigned from a previous school after a backlash over his sexuality sparked by complaints from Christian and Muslim parents. But at the Muslim-majority Parkfield community school, Muslim parents dominate the protests outside the school, putting the community’s attitude towards LGBTQ rights under the spotlight.

Amanullah De Sondy, a lecturer in contemporary Islam at University College Cork, has written about homosexuality in Islam. He says the row has become a flashpoint because Muslim communities feel “under siege” from rightwing politics and Islamophobia and are “looking for something solid to hold on to”.

“The parents who are protesting want Islam to be black and white, but it isn’t,” he says. “Islamic traditions and commentaries are not clear, and they are not meant to be clear, because faith develops in uncertainty. The Qur’an is very fruitful ground for looking at diversity. It is not black and white; it allows for grey.”

Source: ‘I feel caught in the middle’: queer Muslims on the LGBTQ lessons row | Education | The Guardian

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