By John Connolly
BRISTOL, April 3, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Two Bristol schools hurriedly withdrew two books designed to imbue children with tolerance toward same-sex relationships after complaints by Muslim parents, the Daily Mail reported Wednesday.
The books, which target audiences as young as four or five years old, are King & King, a fairy tale about a young monarch who marries a prince instead of a princess, and a book entitled And Tango Makes Three about two male penguins who fall in love at the New York zoo.
Easton Primary School and Bannerman Road Community School, both in Bristol, removed the books as well as a DVD designed to teach children about families and includes gay and lesbian “families.” The move was made following complaints by 90 parents, aided by the Bristol Muslim Cultural Society. Members of the society claimed parents were upset at the lack of parental consultation over the books.
“The main issue was there was a total lack of consultation with parents,” said Farooq Siddique, community development officer for the society and a governor at Bannerman Road school. “The schools refused to deal with the parents, and were completely authoritarian. The agenda was to reduce homophobic bullying and all the parents said they were not against that side of it, but families were saying to us ‘our child is coming home and talking about same-sex relationships, when we haven’t even talked about heterosexual relationships with them yet.’”
Although the Bristol City Council withdrew the books, it was careful to defend its prerogative to indoctrinate children as a means of preventing ‘homophobic harassment’.
“All Bristol schools have a legal duty to report and deal with homophobic harassment as part of the curriculum since April 2007,” said Julia Walton, spokesperson for the education department of the Bristol City Council. “As part of this, schools can choose to seek specialist advice and training on topics such as homophobia.”
The Bristol City Council seems to have been very concerned about maintaining good relations with the Muslim community. The two schools are 60 to 70 percent Muslim, according to Siddique’s estimate.
“In Islam homosexual relationships are not acceptable, as they are not in Christianity and many other religions but the main issue is that they didn’t bother to consult with parents,” said Siddique. “The issue should have been, how do we stop bullying in general, and teaching about homosexuality can be a part of that. This was completely one-sided. Homosexuality is not a priority to parents but academic achievement is. This just makes parents think ‘What the heck is my child being taught at school?’”
Walton said that the Bristol City Council will be working with clerics, among others, to resolve the situation.
“Bristol City Council has temporarily withdrawn the use of materials that can be used to explain homophobia to children to ensure that both Bannerman Road and Easton primary schools can meet their legal responsibilities and operate safely,” said Walton. “We are now liaising with community forums in the city, local clerics, teachers’ unions, the Institute of Community Cohesion and the Equality and Human Rights Commission to ensure that the topic can be addressed in an inclusive manner in the curriculum.”
The schools’ reaction to complaints has been phenomenal compared to reactions from complaints by Christians over the same books in 2007. The Joint Committee on Human Rights, composed of members of Parliament and the House of Lords, issued a report in February 2007 recommending that religious schools be forced to modify their religious teaching to comply with the sexual orientation regulations.
Ben Summerskill, chief executive for the British gay rights group Stonewall, expressed concern over the negative reaction of parents to the pro-homosexual books.
“The small number of parents who make a fuss will cause children to think there is something wrong,” he said.
See Previous LifeSiteNews Coverage:
Pro-Homosexual Booklet to Be Distributed to All 16,000 US School Districts
Bill Banning Discussion on Homosexuality in Tennessee Schools Fails
UK Regulations Barring Religious Schools from Teaching Against Homosexuality Approved
UK Government Program Teaching Four-Year-Olds about Homosexuality
UK: Religious Schools May Not Teach Christian Sexual Morals “As if They Were Objectively True”
B.C. Gay Couple Seeks Mandatory Homosexual School Curriculum Without Parental Opt-Out