Birmingham school sparks outrage by inviting ‘gay Muslim’ to address students – 5Pillars

Erdington Academy in Birmingham has sparked outrage among Muslim staff, students and parents by inviting a “gay Muslim” who said the Koran does not prohibit same-sex relationships to address students aged 11-13.

On Tuesday, Erdington Academy invited a “gay Muslim” named Ash to give a PowerPoint presentation and speech online during an “enrichment day” session with Year 7 and Year 8 students.

The parents told 5Pillars that Ash, who said he was a Bengali Muslim from Birmingham, announced that he was a Muslim and gay, saying that he had read the Quran and hadith and that “it’s okay to be gay.”

There is nothing in the Quran that says you can’t be gay, he said, adding that it depends on interpretation and that there are ancient Muslims and modern Muslims who interpret it differently.

But when asked by students how he could be both a Muslim and gay given Islam’s strict ban on same-sex sexual relations, Ash replied that he lost his faith years ago but still knows many “gay Muslims.”

Sources told 5Pillars that the online session took place without the Muslim students or staff knowing that a “gay Muslim” would address the students.

The presentation included images of two men kissing and other images and captions promoting homosexuality, which, if acted upon, is considered a major sin according to the consensus of Islamic scholars.

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One parent told us: “Whoever organized this knew what they were doing and was trying to provoke Muslims. The Muslim children and staff were really angry. The children were telling the staff to turn off the presentation because he was lying and misquoting the Qur’an. Many people were distraught.

“Basically, a boy was invited knowing full well that he was gay and Muslim and he was going to give a speech to the majority of Muslim children and Muslim staff, and he misquoted the Quran to say that it is permissible to be gay and that the Quran says it’s okay. That is unacceptable. Parents need to know what’s going on and the school needs to understand that what they’ve done is wrong.”

Investigation started

5Pillars reached out to Erdington School about the incident, asking why they decided to proceed with the session on such a controversial topic without consulting Muslim parents, staff and children. We also asked them if they considered it appropriate to try to expose Muslim children to teachings that are clearly contrary to their Islamic faith.

The school did not directly respond to our questions, but issued the following statement:

“We are aware of a problem in a session delivered by an external third party to students on Tuesday. As a result of communications with staff after the session, a fact-finding investigation was commissioned that evening and will be followed up with appropriate actions.

“The principal met with concerned staff before school on Wednesday to listen, reassure, and ensure the scope of the investigation covers the specific concerns raised. Based on the result of this investigation, appropriate actions and communications will be taken. A communication has also been sent to parents to keep them informed.

Meanwhile, educator Yusuf Patel of SRE Islamic told 5Pillars that the Muslim community and parents need to push back when schools force LGBTQ identities on Muslim children.

He said: “This kind of thing is happening more and more. Schools are jumping on themselves to show that they are in favor of diversity, but that diversity seems to emphasize LGBTQ identities and does not take into account that there are Muslim students who also have a protected characteristic and should be treated with respect. Schools are enforcing a hierarchy of equality where sexual orientation and gender are at the top and faith and belief at the bottom.

“But one of our biggest problems is that Muslim parents don’t back off often enough. If they did, schools would reconsider or think twice about what they do in these sessions. There is a big difference between someone who comes in and says ‘these are my experiences’ and someone who has no background in Islamic theology and says ‘there is nothing wrong with being gay and Muslim or that there is nothing in the Qur’an that excludes this type of of relations.’

“They are talking about things without authority, a school would not allow a Covid conspiracy theorist to talk about the pandemic and be given a platform to tell lies. But in this case, the schools allow anyone to claim some authority to speak on Islamic texts that bring the country back 1,400 years of normative Islamic values.”

He added: “I would advise parents and the local Muslim community to organize, get involved and link up with the school, as happened at Wood Green Academy in Wednesbury, and this could have a positive outcome.”

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