British parents face court action for removing children from homosexual history lessons
Parents face possible court action for withdrawing their children from lessons on gay and lesbian history. More than 30 pupils were pulled out of a week of teaching at a primary school which included books about homosexual partnerships. The controversial content was worked into the curriculum at George Tomlinson School in Waltham Forest, East London.
The council has declared that children who missed the lessons will be viewed as truants. The ruling means some families could breach rules that children should not be absent for more than 19 days a year. Sanctions include spot fines, parenting contracts and ultimately court action.
The parents, who objected to the lessons on moral and religious grounds, said the content was more appropriate to secondary age pupils. Pervez Latif, whose children Saleh, ten, and Abdur-Rahim, nine, attend the school, said he knew of up to 30 withdrawals from the lessons. The 41-year-old accountant said Christian and Muslim parents had objected to the theme linked to Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender History Month. `We as parents did not receive any guidance that this was going to happen,' he added. `There was just a newsletter mentioning the week and that certain themes would be taught. `I didn't want my children to be learning about this. I wrote a letter to the chairman of the governors explaining that I would be taking my children out of school and he wrote back saying that there was no other option. `If I am faced with court action, then I will just explain that these are my views. It was also very difficult explaining to my nine- and ten-year-old boys why they were being removed from school. `I found it difficult to explain topics such as homosexual relationships at such a young age.'
One story covered in a lesson was King and King, a fairytale about a prince who turns down three princesses before falling in love with one of their brothers. Another book, And Tango Makes Three, features two male penguins, Roy and Silo, who fall in love at a New York zoo.
Sarah Saeed, 40, took her eight-year-old daughter out of school during the week. She said: `It is not an appropriate age for the children to be learning such matters. We have our own way of explaining things to them and they should not be subjected to this. `I was aware they were going to be learning about homosexual relationships through stories. `If the council takes action against me I will tell them that I told the school beforehand I would be taking my child away if they did not change their policy. `She has a 100 per cent attendance record otherwise. This is the only time and this is the only choice I had.'
Parents have a legal right to withdraw their children from religious education and sex education lessons - apart from science lessons which cover biological reproduction as part of the national curriculum. A spokesman for Waltham Forest Council said: `As part of the borough's policy of promoting tolerance in our schools, children are taught that everyone in our society is of equal value. `At George Tomlinson, parents were invited to meet with teachers and governors several weeks ago to discuss what work would be taking place throughout the national LGBT History Month and how this work would be delivered. `Regrettably, some parents chose to remove their children from school. `The council does not condone any unauthorised absence from school and action has been taken.'
Norman Wells, director of the Family Education Trust, said: `It is a fundamental principle of education law that children must be educated in accordance with the wishes of their parents. 'It is outrageous for a school or local authority to think it can ride roughshod over parents and impose lessons upon children that arouse such widespread concerns. `The only action that needs to be taken is to offer an apology to the parents concerned.'
George Tomlinson is close to a school which launched a gay version of Romeo and Juliet called Romeo and Julian - also to mark the alternative history month.
Gym club banned from holding classes at girls school after Muslim parents complain about boy members
A gymnastics club was forced to stop holding classes at an independent girls school after Muslim parents complained about boy members of the group. Colin Perry, who runs the Shirley Gymnastics Club, said he was saddened by the decision which he said compromised the school's commitment to multiculturalism because of fears of offending a minority. He is now desperately searching for a new home for the club's 250 members - including 36 boys - which had held mixed-sex classes at the junior school site of Old Palace School, in Croydon, South London, since January last year.
'It's unbelievable,' Mr Perry said. 'There is a group of Muslim parents with Muslim children at the school and they are the ones putting pressure on the headteacher. 'It makes me sad to say that.'
He was told about the decision at a meeting with headteacher Judy Harris a few weeks ago. 'She said some of the parents have said their children go to an independent all girls school and unfortunately they're concerned because we have got boys in the club,' Mr Perry said. 'She said to us that the school has got far more Muslim children than last year, so effectively we have to interpret that in our own way.'
Dudley Mead, a Tory Councillor in Croydon and governor at Old Palace school, said he was aware of the parents' concerns. He said: 'That's the Muslim belief isn't it? They are very protective of their female children.' The school did offer a compromise, that the gym club could stay but start later at 6.30pm, rather than 5pm as at present, by which time pupils will be off the site. But Mr Perry says this would be impractical as some sessions wouldn't end until 9.30pm, which is way too late for many of the club's young members. The club, which caters for young gymnasts aged between five and 21, has until April 3 to find a new home.
Mrs Harris released a statement and refused to answer any further questions. In it she said: 'We were unable to accommodate the early starting time of the club as the school was still functioning. 'We had hoped that the club could be held at a later time but this was thought unworkable by the organisers. 'It has not been a decision taken lightly but we have to consider the needs of the school and the security of the site given the very young age of our juniors.'
On its website the school describes how it has a Christian Foundation and is devoted to unleashing creativity and innovation and 'celebrating multicultural understanding and respect.' Last year the school scrapped halal food from the menu after complaints from outraged parents.
Family's fury at lazy British prosecutors who left husband free to kill wife despite her warnings he would murder her
The family of a young mother stabbed to death by her abusive husband yesterday condemned the authorities for missing repeated opportunities to put him behind bars. Sabina Akhtar, 26, had told police that Malik Mannan had beaten her 25 times, and predicted he would kill her if he had the chance. However, prosecutors decided not to charge him, even though he had repeatedly breached bail conditions by pestering her and calling at her home. Taxi driver Mannan, 36, then taunted Miss Akhtar by text message, boasting: `I am a free man, since 1.30. Case file closed. Isn't it great.' Five days later he burst into the marital home and stabbed the mother-of-one to death with a kitchen knife.
Last night, after Mannan was jailed for life, his wife's family attacked the blunders by the Crown Prosecution Service. Her uncle, Reaz Talukder, said: `Sabina's parents blame the CPS for their wrong decision not to charge Malik Mannan at an earlier stage. 'This was simply negligence - if they had charged him she might not be dead.' He added: `Words seem inadequate to express the sadness we feel about the brutal killing of Sabina.'
CPS chiefs have admitted they got it wrong, and have promised to meet her family to apologise.
The couple had an arranged marriage in Bangladesh in 2003, and Miss Akhtar joined him in Britain two years later when she was pregnant with their son, Tahmid, now three. But she discovered he had a gambling habit and was having an affair with another woman, Suraiya Ali, by whom he had two children. He promised to end the affair, but not only continued to be unfaithful but also began beating his wife repeatedly. She suffered in silence for the sake of their son until two days of vicious abuse in July last year when he repeatedly lifted her by her throat before throwing her to the floor. Mannan warned: `One day I will kill you just like this. One day you will die in this way.'
She went to police, but no formal complaint was recorded. Early the following morning he attacked her again, telling her `This is your final hour', but left after she made a desperate call for help to his brother. He threatened to return with a knife and `slaughter' her.
Miss Akhtar went back to police who took a statement with the aid of an interpreter. In it, she warned: `I have become extremely concerned about my personal safety. `My husband is a man of an extreme violent nature. I genuinely believe if he gets the opportunity, he will not hesitate to kill me.' Mannan was arrested on suspicion of assault and making threats to kill before being released on bail. His bail conditions required him to stay away from his wife. But, soon afterwards, he turned up at their home in Longsight, Manchester, demanding over the next few days to be let in. He was arrested again, but this time the CPS advised that he should be released without charge, and his bail conditions were removed.
Five days later, Miss Akhtar contacted a community worker saying she feared for her safety and called relatives saying he was `stalking' her. That night Mannan burst in armed with a kitchen knife and stabbed her in the chest. He bought a plane ticket to Bangladesh, but he was arrested before he could flee. After a jury took just 20 minutes to convict him of murder, he was jailed for life at Manchester Crown Court and ordered to serve a minimum of 17 years.
Afterwards her uncle added: `Sabina was loved very dearly, she was a brave woman and was devoted to her only son who is now under foster carers. `We are now satisfied that justice has been done.'
A CPS spokesman said: `We have dealt with this through our disciplinary procedures.' The case has also been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
Can Congress Regulate All Political Speech?
Caperton v. A.T. Massey Coal Co., which will be argued before the Supreme Court today, is one of the most important cases this term. Unfortunately, much of the press coverage of this dispute is superficial and misleading -- and as a result, the public is unaware of the momentous First Amendment issues at stake.
The case has its roots in a complicated tale of political and corporate intrigue between two coal companies, leading eventually to a jury verdict of $50 million in favor of Hugh Caperton, owner of Harman Mining Co., against Massey Coal Co. for fraud and breach of contract. As Massey's appeal worked its way through the West Virginia court system, Massey CEO Don Blankenship spent $3 million of his personal funds in 2004 on hard-hitting advertisements attacking incumbent state Supreme Court Justice Warren McGraw, who was seeking re-election.
Mr. McGraw's opponent, Brent Benjamin, won that election and later joined the 3-to-2 majority that threw out the verdict against Massey. The argument before the Supreme Court is that Justice Benjamin should have recused himself from the case because of Mr. Blankenship's campaign expenditures. National media coverage has framed the issue as one of defining a standard for recusal due to contributions to judicial campaigns -- but it has muddied a crucial distinction between independent spending and direct campaign contributions. Left undiscussed as well are the free speech consequences of requiring a judge's recusal based on the spending of an independent group....
The difference between campaign contributions and independent spending has, for more than 30 years, occupied a central position in campaign finance law. The Supreme Court has ruled that the government may regulate direct contributions to candidates, which can create at least the appearance of a quid pro quo exchange. But the Court has consistently rejected regulation of independent expenditures, recognizing that if the government can regulate any spending that might influence an election or make a candidate grateful, it can effectively regulate all political speech. Ads urging congressmen to vote against the stimulus? The Democrats could have banned them. The Republicans for their part could have gone after the ads critical of President George W. Bush before the 2006 elections that tossed the GOP out of power.
Self-styled reform groups such as Democracy 21, the Brennan Center for Justice, and Public Citizen -- always eager to regulate political speech -- are scrambling for any affirmation that expenditures automatically equal corruption. Hence these groups have, en masse, joined Mr. Caperton's side.
Suppose Brent Benjamin lost: would the re-elected Justice McGraw have been required to recuse himself from Caperton v. Massey? Wouldn't he be biased against Massey? (Mr. Blankenship's ads, Justice McGraw told the New York Times, "absolutely destroyed" him and made him "embarrassed to go out in public.") If so, the justice would have been off Mr. Blankenship's case no matter who won the election.
Short of abolishing judicial elections -- which many "reform" groups would like to do -- there is no credible way to craft a workable recusal standard based on independent speech. Recusal rules present a serious issue. Yet a victory for Mr. Caperton would establish the proposition that political speech -- not contributions to a politician's campaign, but the independent speech of citizens -- "corrupts" democracy. For those who think that free speech and a healthy democracy go hand in hand, the stakes could hardly be higher.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
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