The first parent to face prosecution after withdrawing his child from a school because it offers LGBT lessons says he is willing to go to jail.
Jabar Hussain, 51, has been told by Birmingham city council that he is in trouble for withdrawing his son Amin, 9, from Parkfield Primary School in Birmingham since September last year.
If found guilty of failing to ensure his son attends school regularly, he faces a fine of up to £1,000 and the imposition of a parenting order. Refusal to pay the fine could result in a prison term. “If I have to go to court, I have to go to court. I would go to jail for this,” Hussain said.
The lessons at Parkfield were launched ahead of the new sex and relationships curriculum, which becomes compulsory in all English schools in September. Although parents will be allowed to withdraw primary-age children from lessons focusing on sex, the relationships content is compulsory.
The school uses a syllabus of about 30 picture books, based on a programme called No Outsiders, to teach children about relationships. Some of the books, which include And Tango Makes Three, about two male penguins who adopt a chick, touch on themes including gay and transgender relationships and same-sex families. The programme also uses Introducing Teddy, about Thomas, a teddy bear who questions his gender identity, telling his best friend: “I know in my heart I’m a girl teddy, not a boy teddy.”
Hussain says he was concerned that his son might be encouraged to question his gender identity at an impressionable age. His son was “confused about the differences between boys and girls” after one school assembly, he said.
The family withdrew Amin in September last year but kept him on the school register because they want him to return to Parkfield, where his older siblings were educated.
Hussain, who is Muslim, said he was “deeply concerned” for his son’s psychological welfare and did not want Amin to be taught “things that go against my religion”. He has now instructed lawyers to launch a judicial review against the city council’s decision. “The school teaches that some children are born in the wrong body,” said Hussain.
“This can cause confusion. If my son gets confused about this and about his own body, he might think he is a girl. The school thinks this is OK and has to be accepted, even though transgender can mean medical treatment and surgery which could damage my son mentally and physically for life.”
In a letter sent to Birmingham city council on Friday, outlining the grounds for bringing a judicial review, Paul Conrathe of Sinclairslaw said Hussain’s concern was “that the school has adopted a ‘salesman-like approach to transgender identity’ ”.
Birmingham city council said the decision to prosecute Hussain was initiated by Parkfield, which referred the matter to the council “based on the child’s attendance record”.