The Birmingham Yardley MP confronted Shakeel Afsar, who is fronting the campaign against Anderton Park Primary’s decision to teach pupils about same-sex relationships.
In a heated row outside the school, which was filmed by BBC News, Ms Phillips accused Mr Afsar and the other protesters of damaging the reputation of Birmingham’s “peaceful and loving” Muslim community.
Asked why she had “not supported” the parents’ protests, Ms Phillips told Mr Afsar: “Our equality laws protect us all. I want to protect you, I want to protect the Muslim community … The worst thing about it is it is damaging the reputation of a peaceful and loving community that I have lived in my entire life.”
She added: “I am going to call for an exclusion area to protect the 700 children in this school.”
Protests have been taking place outside the school for weeks but the row escalated on Sunday night when local residents clashed with activists who had turned up to display rainbow flags and banners supporting the school’s policy. Police were called to the scene and were stationed outside the school on Monday. Activists claimed they had been threatened and had eggs thrown at them.
One of the LGBT+ rights campaigners, who gave their name as Tracy, told Birmingham Live: “It was awful. I was shaking. We had no intention of disturbing anyone – we were putting up the banners and messages we had made to show solidarity with staff. We wanted them to see something positive when they turned up for work, and to see they had our backing.”
Asked about the row, education secretary Damian Hinds also said it was wrong for pupils and children to be forced “to walk past protests to come to school”.
He added: “We live in a society where we have a legal framework that rightly protects different people through society and recognises, celebrates the fact that people are different.
“Of course it’s also true that religion itself is a protected characteristic under the equalities legislation but it is important that in school, children are growing up knowing about modern Britain, knowing about the country in which they are going to become adults.”
Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin
Are you a trainee teacher, NQT, teacher, headteacher, parent or just someone who cares about education and has something to get off your chest in a Schools Improvement Guest Post? Follow this link for more details at the bottom of the page.Don’t forget you can sign up to receive our daily email bulletin (around 7am) with all the latest schools news stories. Your details will never be given to anyone else and you can unsubscribe at any stage. Just follow this link.
We now have a Facebook page - please click to like!