Karishma Dharni

In Defence of Equality in Birmingham Schools

Southall Black Sisters joins Feminist Dissent in a show of solidarity with schools in Birmingham and elsewhere that are struggling courageously against religious fundamentalist led mobilisations. These protests have nothing to do with religious freedom and everything to do with undermining the equality principle and capturing education for political power.

Please show your support by attending the public meeting and /or signing the statement by SBS and Feminist Dissent.

Public Meeting 27th June 7 pm Birmingham

Since the beginning of April 2019, abusive and intimidating protests have taken place outside Anderton Park Primary School in Birmingham.

About This Event

Since the beginning of April 2019, abusive and intimidating protests have taken place outside Anderton Park Primary school in Sparkhill, Birmingham. The focus of the protest is the work the school has done to incorporate the 2010 Equalities Act into the life of the school, particularly the way it has positively addressed issues of LGBT equality. The spotlight was turned on Anderton Park after similar protests about the ‘No Outsiders’ programme at Parkfield School in Alum Rock were brought to a halt.

While the work at Anderton Park has sought to teach equality, challenge stereotypes, reduce discrimination and prejudice, protest leaders claim that LGBT inclusive lessons mean that children are being ‘sexualised’, a deliberate falsehood which characterises the misinformation on which their campaign is based.

While some Muslim parents have joined the protest, the protest leaders appear to be part of a Fundamentalist Muslim movement, with the clear intention of seeking to impose their ultra-conservative political agenda on the curriculum within Muslim communities, and within schools in Muslim majority areas. As well as misinforming parents about what is taking place at local schools, they have sought to intimidate anyone who disagrees with them and to garner the support of fundamentalists in other religions, as well as racists like the journalist Katie Hopkins. Despite months of this aggressive campaign, Anderton Park School has refused to bow to this patriarchal and homophobic pressure.

This public meeting has been called by ‘Feminist Dissent’ and the South Asian LGBT group ‘Finding A Voice’ to show solidarity with the brave stand taken by the school, and to call on all schools to continue in their duty to teach about all equalities and encourage a non-discriminatory and inclusive school environment. We must not allow these narrow, divisive and bigoted voices to define the education our children receive.

Panel Details:

Chair: Pragna Patel Speakers: Jess Philips MP, Khakan Qureshi, Saima Razzaq, Sarah Hewitt-Clarkson and Stephen Cowden.

Jess Phillips is a Labour MP who was elected to Parliament to represent Birmingham Yardley in 2015 and re-elected in 2017. Before being elected Jess worked for Women’s Aid, supporting female victims of domestic abuse.

Khakan Qureshi is the founder of Birmingham South Asians LGBT – Finding A Voice – Birmingham’s first independent non-funded social/support group for South Asians who identify as LGBTQI+ regardless of faith and culture. He is also Co-administrator for British Asians LGBTI and Gay Muslims United and serves on the multi-faith advisory panel for the National “Impact on Faith and Sexuality”. He is also a speaker writer and activist and was shortlisted for the British LGBT Awards 2019 and listed in the Top 100 LGBT on The Independent Rainbow List 2015.

Saima Razzaq is the co-founder of SEEDS (Supporting the Education of Equality and Diversity in Schools) a campaigning group set-up in the light of recent protests outside schools. Saima is also the founder of Birmingham’s only floating hotel. She is also involved in filmmaking and volunteers for Hidayah, a support and social welfare organisation for LGBTQI+ Muslims.

Sarah Hewitt-Clarkson is the Headteacher of Anderton Park School in Sparkhill, Birmingham. She is a passionate Brummie, mother, Shakespeare fan and a warrior for equality. She provides training to many schools and other organisations on Equality of the Sexes and the importance of dismantling stereotypes. She studied Philosophy at university in the late 80s. She loves a good quote. ‘Lord, we know what we are but not what we may be ‘.

Stephen Cowden is a member of the Feminist Dissent Collective. He works at Coventry University where he researches the impact of religious fundamentalism on social policy.

Pragna Patel is a founding member and director of Southall Black Sisters’ advocacy and campaigning centre. She has been centrally involved in some of SBS’ most important cases and campaigns around domestic violence, immigration and religious fundamentalism. She is also a member of Feminist Dissent and has written extensively on race, gender and religion.

This event is generously supported by the Warwick Impact Fund

Please show your support by signing the statement by SBS and Feminist Dissent

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