Haringey Councillors last night resolved to use any legal measures within their power to support a national education curriculum that included teaching about LGBT+ families and relationships, and vowed not to tolerate the kind of aggressive and homophobic protests that have targeted schools in Birmingham.
A motion put forward by the Haringey’s Liberal Democrat Group which passed unanimously and unamended by all councillors present, will see the council writing to all schools in the borough offering the council's fullest support with delivering an LGBT+ inclusive curriculum, and included a resolution that:
“…in the event any schools in Haringey are subject to demonstrations as a result of teaching an LGBT+ inclusive curriculum, then Haringey Council will not tolerate the disruption of children’s education nor the intimidation of pupils, staff or parents. If it proves necessary in order to prevent these negative outcomes, the Council will seek Public Space Protection Orders, injunctions or other appropriate legal measures with a similar effect.”
During an emotional speech proposing the motion (which you can watch in full below), Cllr Luke Cawley-Harrison, who is raising a five-month old daughter with his husband, said that:
“I don’t want my daughter to grow up in a world where relationship education leaves her questioning her family unit because her school is unwilling to teach about same-sex couples. Or a world where she is fearful for her own safety, not just because of her own identity, but because of mine.
“Education around all different forms of relationships and all different individuals is absolutely vital for our society. LGBT+ education in school is not about trying to turn children gay, or to sexualise relationships as protestors have claimed. It is not propaganda. It is the teaching of the fantastic beauty of the individualism that exists within our society.”
The full proposal speech:
A transcript of the speech:
Often when people propose a motion in this chamber, they will open their speeches with how proud or delighted they are to be bringing forward their motion. And rightly so. Parties on both sides have proposed motions over the last year that have brought about changes that I am sure we are all be proud of.
Sadly this evening I can’t say that I am delighted to be bringing forward my motion. In fact I am deeply disappointed. I am disappointed that a world that I thought had become gradually more tolerant, more progressive, and more accepting throughout my lifetime, has in recent years, seen a rise in hate crime, a rise in bigotry, and a rise in people unwilling to accept that people are who they are, can be whoever they want to be, and can love whoever they fall in love with.
What I am proud of however, is who I am. I am a proud member of the LGBT+ community. I am proud father to a daughter with two dads – I suspect the first councillor in Haringey’s history to have a child born through surrogacy to a same-sex couple. And I am proud to live in Haringey, a borough that is home to the MP, Lynne Featherstone, who allowed me and thousands of other individuals in this country the ability to marry who they love, regardless of gender.
The rise in hate crime in the last few years has not been specific in its nature. Whether you are black or white, Muslim or Jewish, Gay or Trans, you will have experienced it. Whether it’s to you personally; to a friend or family member; to a friend of a friend; or even just cases in the media, all minority groups have been victims.
But the rise in hate-crime against the LGBT+ community has been particularly pronounced. Over the past five years, homophobic hate crime has doubled, and transphobic hate crime has trebled. In the last year, almost half of these offenses included violence.
Many in the LGBT+ community thought we were turning a corner when as a backbench MP Ed Davey brought about the repealing of Section 28 in 2003; and again in 2010 with the Equalities Act; and again in 2013 with the Marriage Act.
But the recent protests around Birmingham schools against the No Outsiders project which was introduced to teach children about the equality act and celebrated the diversity of everyone in our country, including those that identify as LGBT+, shows that we are much further away from that corner than we thought.
When MPs like Roger Godsiff and Esther McVey came out in support of the protests, when their political parties failed to take action on them doing so, they became complicit in homophobia, it’s as simple as that.
But no one is born homophobic. No one is born transphobic. The bigotry against minority groups is a learned trait. These protests are creating a culture of acceptance that allows the oppression of the LGBT+ community. When the next Prime Minister of our country is calling gay people “tank-topped bum boys” and compared same-sex marriage to bestiality with no recourse, is it any surprise that this culture of acceptance continues?
Last month a 12 year old boy was arrested in Liverpool for a violent homophobic attack on a couple in their 30’s. 12 years old. Only just out of primary school, an age deemed too young by protestors, to learn about different types of relationships.
I am sure most of you will have seen the image of the young female couple that were attacked on a bus recently in our neighbouring borough of Camden. Their four attackers were aged between 15 and 18.
I don’t want my daughter to grow up in a world where relationship education leaves her questioning her family unit because her school is unwilling to teach about same-sex couples. Or a world where she is fearful for her own safety, not just because of her own identity, but because of mine.
I don’t want our country to continue being one where in a single year 800 Birmingham children are calling Childline because of fears about their sexuality or gender, or the bullying they have faced. Where children are telling other children that they should kill themselves because they are gay, bisexual or trans.
Education around all different relationships and all different individuals is vital for our society. LGBT+ inclusive education in schools is not about trying to turn children gay, or sexualise relationships as protestors have claimed. It is not propaganda. It is the teaching of the fantastic beauty of the individualism that exists within our society.
And as elected representatives, we at the very least should stand up and say to all LGBT+ children, adults and families – not only will we stop those that try and erase you from history, but we are your allies, your supporters, your friends, and your community. We will protect you and we will proudly support the teaching of the diversity of this country. Indeed for many of us; we are you.
With that in mind, I ask that all members of this council to not only support this motion, but leave here tonight with the intention to do everything in their power to create a greater, safer space for tolerance, and champion the teaching of an LGBT+ inclusive curriculum in all of our schools.