Muslim parents air their concerns ahead of planned changes to sex education

Muslim parents met Little Ilford's managers on Thursday (July 4) to share their concerns about relat

Muslim parents met Little Ilford's managers on Thursday (July 4) to share their concerns about relationships and sex education plans. Picture: JON KING - Credit: Archant

Parents have urged a school not to encourage gay relationships ahead of planned changes to sex education.

The Muslim mums and dads were invited to Little Ilford by managers on Thursday to share their concerns about the introduction of relationships and sex education (RSE) which will be compulsory in schools from 2020.

Parent, Mohammed Chowdhury, said: "We are not against RSE. We are not against someone having a same sex relationship.

"But what we don't want is the school to encourage our children to have a same sex relationship, which is against our religious beliefs."

He added that some of the parents did not want external organisations allowed into the Rectory Road secondary to fulfil their own agendas.

"We are happy if the school teaches according to what is age appropriate. [The school] needs to keep in mind [pupils'] religious and cultural backgrounds. If they follow that, then there will be no problem," Mr Chowdhury said.

Under RSE the government expects secondaries to teach pupils about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) relationships while primaries are "encouraged" to cover this "if they consider it age appropriate".

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But some Muslim families believe learning about same sex relationships should wait until adulthood.

The meeting at Little Ilford which has 1,325 pupils comes after leaflets attacking RSE were handed out to parents outside a Forest Gate primary.

And a group of LGBT+ councillors from Newham Council said they no longer "feel safe" after a West Ham Labour member shared a video online calling for Muslims to stand against the plans.

A second parent, who asked not to be named, said: "Our religion teaches us to respect each other's values and beliefs. We're all for tolerance and diversity but we also have a right to decide how we bring our children up."

The 42-year-old said he was happy with Little Ilford's approach so far but urged the school to time meetings so parents could attend outside work hours.

"We don't want this to be a tick box exercise," he said.

A Newham Council spokeswoman said: "Newham schools will continue to engage and hold meaningful consultation with parents and carers about how they can best deliver the national statutory curriculum, including relationship education, during the next academic year.

"Newham will remain a place that is inclusive and challenges discrimination. It is fundamental our children are brought up in a community where they are taught to understand and respect difference, and celebrate diversity."