Birmingham school row: ‘This is made out to be just Muslims v gays. It’s not’

As the new term starts, and a court case looms, teachers, parents and demonstrators at Birmingham’s Anderton Park primary tell their side of the story

“People of quality respect equality,” says Aisha, shyly sticking rainbow feathers on to the peace posters she’s just made. The teenager is one of half a dozen Muslim pupils from South and City College Birmingham attending a creative workshop promoting LGBTQ rights in the city.

They are joined by Muslim girls and women, mothers, students and refugees, who have crammed into the Ort gallery to meet and collaborate with members of the local Muslim LGBTQ community. A two-year-old careers between the tables, which are scattered with paint pens, rainbow paper and pots of glue. One mother in a niqab who homeschools her three children tells me she’s here to make sure they understand “how to respect other people who might be different”. Another, a migrant from Iraq, listens carefully to the experience of Mayzar Shirali, who runs a Persian LGBT asylum and refugee support network, and is hoping today is “an icebreaker”.

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