Angela Eagle giving a heartfelt speech at parliament | Photo: YouTube/BBC Parliament
A Labour MP and former shadow minister gave an emotional defense of LGBTI-inclusivity lessons in UK schools.
Angela Eagle, who is openly gay, said that members of the LGBTI community ‘aren’t going to get back in the closet’ or ‘be ashamed of the way we are’.
Her tearful speech to the House of Commons about a recent spate of protests which have taken place outside primary schools in Birmingham.
The protests are over LGBTI-inclusivity classes, which teach about same-sex couples and gender identity.
Protestors have said that primary school children are too young to learn about such issues, with some falsely claiming that the classes teach sex education. A number of the protestors – who are mostly, but not exclusively, Muslim –have also said that the lessons go against the teachings of Islam.
Protests were recently banned from taking place outside Anderton Park school. The school has been a particular flash-point for protests in recent months.
The Guardian uploaded an edited version of Eagle’s speech to their YouTube channel.
‘It’s only on the far, extremist, fundamentalist fringes that we get the kind of hostility’
Eagle, ex-cabinet shadow minister
is one of the highest profile LGBTI politicians in the UK.
‘We know that the motivations of some involved in this are reactionary, and they are to return us to an era when LGBT people should get back in the closet and hide, and be ashamed of the way they are,’ she said on Thursday.
‘We aren’t going to get back in the closet, or hide, or be ashamed of the way we are. And nor are we going to allow a generation of pupils, that are now in school, to go through what pupils in the 80s had to go through because this chamber let them down.
‘And nor are we going to let this happen in the name of religion,’ Eagle added.
Referring to the protests which have taken place outside schools in Birmingham, Eagle said: ‘[It’s] only on the far, extremist, fundamentalist fringes that we get the kind of hostility that is being shown on some of the Facebook groups of these campaigners.’
Sitting in the benches behind Eagle was Roger Godsiff, the Labour MP for Birmingham Hall Green, who courted controversy after he expressed support for the school protestors.
Speaking to protest organizers earlier this month, Godsiff said ‘You’re right’ and said they had ‘Just cause’.
He was widely condemned by varoious members of the Labour Party. Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner said she had reported Godsiff to the party’s chief whip.
Numerous politicnans have spoken out against hte protest in the past.
This includes Schools Minister Nick Gibb. Gibb has described the protests as ‘wrong’ and said the government was working with local authorities to resolve the issue.
Support for LGBTI-inclusivity lessons at schools
The protests outside schools in Birmingham have been making headlines since January.
The protests initially took place outside Parkfield Community School, which taught No Outsiders program which taught about LGBTI inclisivtiy.
In the following months, demonstrations spread to nearby schools with similar programs.
A number of schools halted their LGBTI-inclusivity classes as a result of the protests.
A number of senior political figures have expressed their support for including LGBTI-inclsivity lessons in schools’ curriculums. This includes Education Secretary Damian Hinds.
The head of the UK’s school watchdog, Ofsted, has also said that LGBTI-inclusivity lessons should be widely taught in schools.