‘We respect Islam and gay people’ … The gay teacher transforming a Muslim school

The Guardian  has an interview with primary teacher Andrew Moffat who left his job after a backlash over his sexuality but is now bringing his message of equality to a 99% Muslim primary in Birmingham.

…It took one complaint from a parent “as a Christian” to undo all Andrew Moffat’s work teaching children respect for people of different sexual orientation. …the parents objected that he had told children he was gay. Moffat felt he could no longer continue and resigned…  however, he crossed Birmingham to take up an even greater challenge: assistant headteacher at Parkfield Community school, where 98.9% of pupils are from Muslim families…

That was two years ago. With the backing of Hazel Pulley, the headteacher, Moffat went on to introduce a No Outsiders policy promoting diversity…  That includes welcoming people of any race, colour or religion and those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

… Moffat has been careful to centre the policy around the Equality Act 2010, to first gain the support of the governing body, and to keep parents fully informed, inviting them in to see the books that would be used…

Pulley says she appointed Moffat because she already knew of his work, in particular on improving pupil behaviour and on diversity. “I thought his approach was admirable. We already had similar work going on at school but we needed someone to lead it and give all the staff confidence,” she says.

It is possible to teach the law against discrimination in Britain without undermining any religious faith, she says: “Everyone knows we respect Islam here. One parent asked if he could not contradict what the school said. I told him that whatever parents said in the home was their decision but it’s lovely that the children will hear both views.”…

Parents’ initial response had been “How dare they? How can the government make this law?” But their anger had abated once they learned more about the approach, they said.

“If they don’t learn about gay, lesbian and transgender people in society from school they will learn it from the outside world and they could hear things like ‘that’s disgusting’. I don’t want that,” said another. “I agree,” said a third. “I’d rather my children hear it at school. When they are at home we teach them that in our culture gay is not allowed but we respect people who are different from us and hope they too will respect us and the boundaries of our religion.”…

Last month Moffat felt the policy had embedded sufficiently for him to be open with children and parents about his own sexuality. So far, there have been no complaints…

More at We respect Islam and gay people’ … The gay teacher transforming a Muslim school

 

As ever, it’s well worth reading the full article here for all the insights and experiences Andrew Moffat shares.

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