There appears to be a line of argument used by a vocal minority that children should not be educated about homosexuality (and, I suppose, non-binary gender identities) because the proposals are to "promote that lifestyle" (or words to that effect).

The people using this line of argument are often overtly religious, usually Christian or Muslim.

It seems fairly uncontroversial to me to inform children of the existence of people who fall in love with other people of the same sex, and that these people are no less deserving of the rights everyone else enjoys.

But this does not sound like "promotion."

Is anyone advocating the promotion of homosexuality or non-binary gender roles in UK schools?


This question is not opinion-based because, via contrast with "inform", it implies the definition of promotion for the purposes of this discussion. To clarify: here "promotion" is used in the sell/advocate sense.

  • 90
    The problem is with that definition. One person looking at it as "being neutral and simply acknowledging the basic humanity of a group" would be considered "promoting" by those who feel that the way they are is fundamentally evil or morally vile, by not calling them those negative things. Kind of like when groups claim they are being oppressed when they are given equal status/importance as groups they've always held supremacy over. The child who used to hoard the entire candy bar has something taken away when they only get an equal share. Commented Jul 9, 2019 at 16:48
  • 5
    @PoloHoleSet Isn't what you are describing "promotion" of individuals from lower to higher status (namely, equal status to the majority)? In other words, you agree with the anti-homosexuality group that this is promotion, just that they are unjustified to complain of it?
    – Hasse1987
    Commented Jul 9, 2019 at 22:16
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    @Hasse1987 "promotion" may mean two things. Either you promote someone to a higher position, or you promote some activity, encouraging more people to partake in it. The expression here is "promotion of homosexuality", not "promotion of homosexuals", so it implies that modern schools are encouraging kids to become gay, which doesn't seem to be grounded in reality.
    – IMil
    Commented Jul 9, 2019 at 23:38
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    In a subjective and ideological topic, wouldn't punishing those who express a certain opinion, and even more, the punishing of people who refuse to express a certain other opinion, count as "promotion"? For example, making up new grammar rules, redefining the meaning of existing words, and punishing those who refuse to support those changes (either directly by expelling them from schools and firing from jobs, or indirectly by calling them evil and hateful), can be seen as oppression by some.
    – vsz
    Commented Jul 10, 2019 at 4:45
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    @DavidK - then my analogy would change to "the child who used to hoard all the candy bars." It's not about whether they are truly losing something they are entitled to, but that they've had access to something that should not have been theirs, for so long, that they feel entitled to it. But, that's semantics, I think we are on the same page. Commented Jul 10, 2019 at 15:24

6 Answers 6


It seems this issue came to media attention with Parkfield primary school in Birmingham in March 2019. However, similar disputes in Birmingham schools do precede this kerfuffle.

The school's leadership had started a 'No Outsiders' class. The point of this class was to teach children to be tolerant of people from different races, genders, or sexualities. This initiative failed completely when Muslim parents removed 600 children from classes for a day. This comes after 400 predominantly Muslim parents signed a petition in January demanding the lessons be discontinued.

The school's regulator, Ofsted, then stated that Parkfield had an "outstanding" record of "tolerance, acceptance and mutual respect". Direct quotation from the 14th March article in The Guardian:

Andrew Moffat, who was awarded an MBE for his work in equality education, said he was threatened and targeted via a leaflet campaign after the school piloted the No Outsiders programme. Its ethos is to promote LGBT equality and challenge homophobia in primary schools.

Moffat, who has been shortlisted for a world’s best teacher award, resigned from another primary school in Birmingham, Chilwell Croft academy, after a similar dispute. He is also the author of Challenging Homophobia in Primary Schools, a teaching document.

At one of the Parkfield protests, parents held signs that read “say no to promoting of homosexuality and LGBT ways of life to our children”, “stop exploiting children’s innocence” and “education not indoctrination”.

The evidence suggests that Parkfield attempted classes which challenged prejudices against race, gender, and the LGBT community. These classes were rejected by Muslim parents on the grounds that this was equivalent to teaching their children to be LGBT. The government's schools regulator however sided with the school's leadership and concluded the school had a good record of trying to deal with prejudice.

Parkfield's Head, Hazel Pulley, has said the following on the issue:

It's really upsetting for our staff, some of them are becoming ill, some of them really don't want to come to school. Some say they've been shaking. Losing weight, not wanting to eat food at all. And the reason why is because they're met, especially the teachers of young children, with parents accusing them of things that are just not happening.

For example, the parents of young children are saying "But you're teaching them certain sexual activity, which we don't agree with." Well we don't, we certainly don't do that. Or we're using clay models or something to show children something of a sexual nature, we most certainly do not do that. There's a real concern about the myths that are out there, that we might be using, in assembly, pictures of our partners or conversations with children and those things are really not happening.

...I think it's very clear, from school that we would never ever discuss sexual activity with very young children.

We don't know whether this is evidence of a deliberate smear campaign by parents, or just a case of mass hysteria due to ignorance or prejudice. Given Ofsted approval, it seems unlikely that such allegations about explicit sexual content are true.

The Parkfield Parent's Community Group published a statement on the 23rd February 2019. Their main concerns were that these lessons began without parental consultation, and that they were in effect teaching children sex; a claim which appears incorrect.

The policy of the school is disproportionate, morally unacceptable and violates the democratic rights of parents to have children educated in consistency with their own beliefs and philosophical convictions.

One 4-year-old Parkfield child came home and said that her teacher had said “We can be a boy or a girl” and “wear boy’s clothes or girl’s clothes”. Another one told her mother that she learnt “boys can marry boys and girls can marry girls.”

These are statements of legal fact. The parent's group statement affirms the right of individuals under the Equality Act to self-expression and protection from discrimination, however the distinction between education of the legal fact and "promotion" i.e. advocacy is blurred.

There are claims of specific incidents which are regarded as crossing a red line. Specifically, the claim that someone can be a Muslim and gay, and that children were asked to write "being gay is OK".

The statement does have a specific definition of promotion:

Introduction to the book: “What we now need to be teaching is that homophobia once existed but we don’t have it in our school today, and that to be a person who is gay or lesbian or transgender or bi-sexual is normal, acceptable and OK. Children need to be learning that they may identify or may not identify as LGBT as they grow up, and that whoever they grow into as an adult is also perfectly normal and acceptable.” (No outsiders in our school – page 2) (italics added, this is a promotion of a homosexual lifestyle).

In this case there seems to be ambiguity on the question of promotion, as the parent's group themselves affirm the rights of individuals under the Equality Act. So this definition seems to leave more questions than answers.

EDIT: To clarify a broader cultural and legal context on the topic of toleration, as it appears this is not understood.

In the United Kingdom it is illegal to discriminate against someone because of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation.

British society's toleration is rooted in the bloody turmoil of the reformation, in which Catholics and Protestants butchered each other because they sincerely believed the other side were evil agents of the anti-Christ, and failure to do so would put their immortal souls in peril.

In 1673 the Test Act was introduced, requiring that anyone in the civil service must take communion in the Church of England. The first progressive legislation was the Toleration Act 1688, allowing Nonconformist Protestants the right to assemble and worship. However, nonconformists had to wait until the Sacramental Test Act 1828 before they could legally take public office. Discrimination against Catholics was repealed in 1829 with the Roman Catholic Relief Act.

Toleration was gradually extended to other groups. In 1967 the Sexual Offences Act decriminalised consenting relationships between adult men, the Race Relations Act 1968 ended discrimination in employment and housing, and the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 forbade discrimination by sex or marital status.

In 1988 the Local Government Act's Section 28 forbade local government from promoting homosexuality. This was repealed by 2003's Local Government Act, and later sexual orientation became part of the Equality Act 2010.

Toleration however is not afforded to groups believing in the elimination of sections of society. Groups espousing Nazi or Islamist ideology are banned and their members jailed, and similarly groups dedicated to political violence are forbidden (Northern Irish terrorism: IRA, UVF, etc).

Schools are within their rights to educate children on the cultural and legal reality of their country. This is especially important given the unfortunate reality of widespread prejudice. Official records show on average 100,000 racist hate crimes a year in England and Wales. Hate crimes against gay and lesbian people have doubled during 2013-2018 to around 12,000 incidents, while hate crimes against transgender people have trebled.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – yannis
    Commented Jul 12, 2019 at 8:33

The verb "promote" is something of a complicated word. To quote the OED, one meaning is

To publicize or advertise (a product, organization, venture, etc.) so as to increase sales or public awareness.

Several relatively mainstream organisations are interested in increasing public awareness of LGBT issues in schools and elsewhere, in order to normalise the discussion.

  • 4
    Is it worth noting here that all the things that the schools are trying to raise awareness of are legal in the UK and the chances are someone in the class already is or has parents who fall into these categories? Progammes like No Outsiders main message is people are people.
    – Jontia
    Commented Jul 9, 2019 at 10:37
  • 4
    @Ben As you'll note from Jontia's comment above, the average message is at least "being gay is normal", which is now mainstream (it's certainly mine), but from viewpoints where homosexuality is negative is morally equivalent to "being gay is great". If you're trying to place a point on the moral compass as the only valid one, then this is going to become a) opinion based and b) nasty fairly fast.
    – origimbo
    Commented Jul 9, 2019 at 10:47
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    @origimbo What percentage of the population needs to have a certain characteristic before it becomes "normal"? Wikipedia has less than 5% of the US population identifying as LGBTQ. This also backed up by LGBTmap. Using those stats, its also normal to be suicidal or anorexic.
    – doneal24
    Commented Jul 9, 2019 at 16:56
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    @doneal24 Yes, and you'll note that there are events such as mental health awareness week trying to inform people of that fact. mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/mental-health-awareness-week
    – origimbo
    Commented Jul 9, 2019 at 17:03
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    Sorry to jump in, but I made the same point about normalcy in a now-deleted comment. I realised this line of argument descended into a definitional war of attrition, similar to that opened by this answer about "promotion." The case for "normal" can be argued both ways using either the pejorative meaning of the word ("ewww, that's not normal!") or the more benign meaning of "naturalness", arguing that people are born into a sex/gender/orientation. Unfortunately this approach of playing with semantics (IMO) doesn't really advance things.
    – 52d6c6af
    Commented Jul 9, 2019 at 17:11

It depends on definition of promotion.

For example: a few weeks ago on internet went viral a quarrel between a UK student and teacher concerning number of genders. First the student got expelled from class for effectively expressing politically undesired views (merely 2 genders), later got expelled from school for video recording the teacher. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Unft5pHI2lw

Does it count as promoting? Because I understand that for left wing it may look as:

  • simply a misbehaving student got disciplined,

however when looked from right wing it looks more like:

  • teacher was expressing political views that are not necessary in line with biology (well, technically speaking our specie has generally two sexes)

  • student challenged him on this politically charged topic

  • student got removed out of class

  • as teacher claims seemed a bit far fetched and one would not trust a random student claiming it was actually said ("This is my opinion which is acceptable in the school"), he recorded it to have evidence

  • he got punished for actually revealing whole contentious discuss.

EDIT: If expressing opposing views on this socio-political issue could get one in to serious troubles, then it may imply that some worldview is being actively promoted.

  • 7
    The linked video is someone talking about the recorded video and associated social media storm. It's not really helping this as an answer. In particular it doesn't support any of the points at the bottom. Gender is a social not biological term, the biological term is "sex". There no primary information in the link about the nature of the challenge or why the student was removed. And nothing in the link gives any information on how or if the teacher's claims or the classroom material were surreal or crude.
    – Jontia
    Commented Jul 9, 2019 at 12:56
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    @Jontia Primary information, the original recording: youtube.com/watch?v=xcmxFw1LAbo
    – Shadow1024
    Commented Jul 9, 2019 at 13:20
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    @Shadow1024: “technically speaking our specie has generally two sexes” — just for the record, like so many things in reality, it's a little more complicated than that. Commented Jul 11, 2019 at 9:26
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    @Jontia Not as simple as that. For hundreds of years gender and sex meant exactly the same thing. Then, as the word sex became a "dirty word" the word gender then became the accepted word. If you look back at forms from the 70s you will see the option Gender: Male/Female. It was the women's movement in the 70s that pushed for switching the meaning so as to create a different meaning.
    – theblitz
    Commented Jul 11, 2019 at 11:58
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    @theblitz Wikipedia disagrees. Before 1955 it was uncommon to use gender to refer to anything other than grammatical constructs. John Money introduced the terminological distinction between biological sex and gender as a role. In the 70s, the word was adopted by the feminist movement, still referring to social roles. In the 80s and 90s is started being used to avoid the word sex, as you've suggested.
    – Jontia
    Commented Jul 11, 2019 at 16:12

A trans-gender Canadian children's book author named S. Bear Bergman wrote a huffpost article titled I Have Come to Indoctrinate Your Children Into My LGBTQ Agenda (And I’m Not a Bit Sorry), in which she was quoted as saying:

I am here to tell you: All that time I said I wasn’t indoctrinating anyone with my beliefs about gay and lesbian and bi and trans and queer people? That was a lie.

I want to make them like us. That is absolutely my goal. I want to make your children like people like me and my family, even if that goes against the way you have interpreted the teachings of your religion. I want to be present in their emotional landscapes as a perfectly nice dad and writer who is married to another guy. Who used to be a girl (kind of). Who is friendly and cheerful and not scary at all, no matter what anyone says.

A gay activist named Daniel Villarreal, in an article titled Can We Please Just Start Admitting That We Do Actually Want To Indoctrinate Kids?, was quoted as saying:

The battle over Tennessee’s “Don’t Say Gay Bill” has made this most apparent. Why would anybody get all up in arms about punishing teachers who mention queers in the classroom unless we wanted teachers to do just that? In response against the bill, FCKH8 hired some little girls to drop F-bombs in their online PSAs and gave out hundreds of “Don’t B H8N on the Homos” t-shirts, wristbands, pins and stickers to school children in front of TV cameras. Recruiting children? You bet we are.

I and a lot of other people want to indoctrinate, recruit, teach, and expose children to queer sexuality AND THERE’S NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT.

Admittedly these two examples did not occur in the UK. However, given how similar our respective cultures in the Anglosphere are, I think it's fair to suggest that this sentiment doesn't stop at the Atlantic.

So to answer your question, yes, there are people intent on promoting LGBT lifestyles in schools, and who have no qualms with making their intent known.

  • 17
    Arguably, this is not about "promoting LGBT lifestyles", but teaching acceptance of the lifestyle - so the answer hinges on the exact definition of "promoting".
    – sleske
    Commented Jul 10, 2019 at 7:29
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    @sleske OP explicitely contrasts giving information to promotion so it's pretty clear what the intended meaning is.
    – Based
    Commented Jul 10, 2019 at 8:22
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    I think this answer misrepresents the statements by these LGBT activists. They are not indoctrinating children to take up an LGBT lifestyle themselves, they are indoctrinating them to tolerate such a lifestyle in others. This is a relevant distinction, because many people who oppose such activists claim they are doing the first, while they are actually trying to do the latter.
    – Philipp
    Commented Jul 10, 2019 at 9:27
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    @Philipp If in position of authority I tell you it's absolutely OK to violate some taboo, am I mildly encouraging you to do so or telling you to tolerate people who do so? Or both as, as regardless of intentions, those two activities are simultaneous. BTW: would you apply your logic to slogan: "It's OK to be white"? ;)
    – Shadow1024
    Commented Jul 10, 2019 at 11:49
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    @Shadow1024 Sounds like you're telling me that in the organisation in which you have authority, violating the taboo is allowed, so 1) I am expected to tolerate people who do so, and 2) I should be tolerated if I do so. I don't see any encouragement or coercion whatsoever.
    – Richard
    Commented Jul 10, 2019 at 14:51

PoloHoleSet has the right idea in his comment:

The problem is with that definition. One person looking at it as "being neutral and simply acknowledging the basic humanity of a group" would be considered "promoting" by those who feel that the way they are is fundamentally evil or morally vile, by not calling them those negative things.

At least from a conservative Christian perspective, homosexuality is a sinful lifestyle. So educators saying that it is "OK" (or to translate, morally acceptable) is in direct conflict with what the parent's want their children to be taught.

That being said, of course all humans should be treated with dignity, regardless of their choices.

In other words, the problem is really with the definition of tolerance. Christians mean:

I respect your right to choose that and will treat you with dignity, even though it is morally wrong.

When what is generally taught about tolerance/inclusion is:

I have no right to say that is morally wrong

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    Is telling someone who and what they are is morally wrong treating them with dignity?
    – Jontia
    Commented Jul 10, 2019 at 21:10
  • 3
    @Jontia It certainly depends on the manner in which you do so, but if one is willing to accept absolute truth (granted, an issue for many people...) then telling people they are wrong has to happen. So yes, you can do so respectfully (in Christian parlance "tell the truth with love") Commented Jul 10, 2019 at 21:27
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    @Jontia I now realize you added "who and what they are", which is off-topic. Suffice it to say that regardless of any pre-existing inclination, Christians believe that homosexual behavior is a choice. Commented Jul 10, 2019 at 21:36
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    As InappropriateCode details, there is an ongoing protest by Muslim parents at a UK school
    – Caleth
    Commented Jul 11, 2019 at 7:37
  • 2
    I think you can safely drop "Christian" - homosexuality is considered equally wrong by conservative people of all major religions or even with no religious views whatsoever. Commented Jul 12, 2019 at 12:40

The problem seems to be that Ofsted have moved on from teaching tolerance to promoting the lifestyle. Furthermore, they are insisting it be given in primary schools. You need to take into account that most religious schools do not even talk about sex until the kids are much older - and certainly not in primary schools.

The problem also arises for Jewish schools as can be seen from this article in the Jewish Chronicle:

Although the school was committed to teaching respect and tolerance for all people, its diversity policy excluded some of the protected characteristics listed in the Equality Act.

Protected characteristics include same-sex orientation and gender reassignment, which Charedi rabbis have insisted should not be brought up in the classroom.

Talking about gender-reassignment with primary school kids who have no understanding whatsoever about sex seems to be pushing a lifestyle rather than pushing tolerance.

  • 9
    "The problem seems to be that Ofsted have moved on from teaching tolerance to promoting the lifestyle." Source?
    – 52d6c6af
    Commented Jul 11, 2019 at 12:18
  • Please try to add references to support your answer.
    – JJJ
    Commented Nov 18, 2019 at 20:16

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