Wednesday, May 27, 2020

British Values and Islam: The LGBT School’s Row

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Shaun Flores
Shaun Flores is a writer based and born in London but his origin from a small island by the name of Trinidad & Tobago. At the moment Shaun is a freelance writer for a few magazines and online platforms, with the hope to become a political-cultural reporter on issues in the black community. He has just finished his masters in Race Media and Social Justice from Goldsmiths University. He hopes to study a PhD 'The absence of masculinity in the black home'. He writes political commentary surrounding the black community and veganism. With a keen interest in the current social and political climate we live in

Anderton Primary School in Birmingham has sparked a religious debate as lessons teaching about LGBT rights have been stopped. Protesters outside the school shouted to have control over their children’s education: “stop brainwashing our children”, “homosexuality and Islam do not work hand in hand”.

The Education Secretary Damian Hinds, warns “myths” are being spread about the the content of LGBT lessons under the ‘The No Outsiders Programme’.

‘The No Outsiders programme’ which has brought about the issues runs alongside the relationship and sex education classes. Anderton Primary School which is 80% Muslim has now seen over 600 kids removed from classes by their parents.

Protests outside Anderton Primary School

In a changing world where sexuality and gender identity are hot topics, it continues as the protests against LGBT lessons at Anderton primary school, in Birmingham have continued and they seem they will not stop.

What is the No Outsiders Programme?

Many religions have come under siege from the politics of sexuality and gender, as many non-traditional lifestyles are not promoted in many religions. Many parents believe that the LGBT lessons “promote homosexual and transgender lifestyles to their children”.

The ‘No outsiders Programme’ is based on a book written by headteacher Andrew Moffat.

Headteacher at Anderton Primary School (Andrew Moffat)

In an attempt to teach equality amongst children in school irrespective of gender, sex, race or religion. It teaches children that there are a variation of families in the UK. This is merely a reality of the diversity of humankind and a tolerance Britain epitomizes.

No outsiders in Our School Teaching the Equality Act In Primary Schools, by Andrew Moffat

Islamophobia is on the rise and this debate feeds the idea that Islam does not work in accordance with Western ideals. It plays into the hands of right wing nationalists who can use this to promote the idea that Islam continues to be an enemy of The West.

Western Values

The core Western values are ones of democracy, freedom and justice can be seen as the bedrock of its civilisation. For practising, liberally informed Muslims, freedom and democratic values common practice to them.

MP Jo Cox said: “While we celebrate our diversity, what surprises me time and time again.. is that we are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us”.

In an incredibly diverse society, ideas, ideologies and religions are bound to clash. In a see-saw and monopoly on society, we continue to be divided into political tribes. Islam like that of Christianity is deeply socio-political and makes up as a deeply entrenched identity in many people lives.

Islam is derived from the Arabic root “Salema”: peace, purity, submission and obedience. In the religious sense, Islam means submission to the will of God and obedience to His law.

When does ‘peace, purity and submission and obedience’ comes at odds with sexual and gender politics?

Simply because homosexuality is seen as a sin, as reinforced by some Islamic scholars. But this is not the view of all Muslims.

A liberal interpretation of Islam allows for an extension beyond the literal interpretation of Islam to which many other muslims would not adhere to.

Sadiq Khan: The Liberal Muslim

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan at Pride

Current Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan is a perfect representation of a liberally progressive muslim who has supported the rights of the LGBTQ community.

Khan, was the first elected Muslim mayor of London which was a moment captured in progressive history. His support of gay marriage epitomized the evolving progressive nature of British society.

July 2017, Khan hosted LGBT+ community at city hall for the first time in seven years. November 2018 Khan fronted the ‘new ‘It Gets Better’ video for LGBT youth which aimed to promote a positive message about being LGBT+ to young people across the world. He also backed Queer Britain, a project announced back in February 2018, to create “a world-leading LGBTQ+ museum” in London.

Has Khan latched onto a movement grounded in sexuality, gender and identity politics to boost his campaign? Or, is it that Khan is not a true Muslim either supporting gay marriage which is against Islam? Khan is a man who has grown up in a time where the world as we know it is shifting from the tunnel vision we once saw, practiced and lived in.

Khan clearly supports the freedoms and expressions of people and his experience as an ethnic minority and a Muslim I am sure influences his views. He has shown solidarity to the movement for people who are oppressed due to sexuality, and gender identities which is continuing to be brought into the realm of conversation.

Follow in Khan’s footsteps

The row surrounding the LGBTQ lessons in school can serve to fuel Islamophobia which has become a pervasive, stagnant feature in British society. Sadiq Khan proves to be an admirable role models championing a more inclusive and open minded society.

Islam supports a democratic form of governance, whilst simultaneously requires Muslims to “obey those in authority among them” (4:60), any Muslim that openly speaks against the West while living within the freedom is acting deliberately against the recommendations of their religion, as they must “obey the law of the Land”.

Those protesting should obey the law of the land and not pick and choose the Quran to support specific biases. Those parents who are protesting seem to want Islam to have no grey area, only black and white which is a dangerous reduction of the complexity of humans.

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