A school has come under fire from a group of Muslim parents after a four-year-old boy was sent home from school with a book called Daddy’s Roommate which details the lives of a gay couple and their son.
It includes everyday scenes such as the men shaving together in their underwear and resting in bed. The parents are part of a children’s support group in Hounslow, West London and they say their only objection is with the child’s age because the content is “inappropriate for young children, regardless of faith.”
Parallels were drawn to a protest in Birmingham where roughly 600 Muslim children were withdrawn from a school because of lessons about homosexuality and gender equality.
However, a spokeswoman for LGBT Muslims countered that the outrage of the parents was simply “traditional homophobia dressed up as a faith issue.”
When interviewed by a BBC Local Democracy reporter, the children support group had used words and phrases such as “sin,” “corrupt,” and “the proper way” when discussing the book.
All the parents involved chose to remain anonymous and claim that Daddy’s Roommate borders on indoctrination by promoting a practice their religion forbids.
One father even compared the book to giving the child a book that featured smoking, gun use, or terrorism.
He said: “The topic today is why the children are being influenced?
“Just for the sake of LGBT rights – the vast majority of people who just want to live a normal life.
“And a normal life is – outside any faith or any religion – normal life is to have a family, husband, wife, children, living in a family, without any influence on the children from an education they don’t need.
“We need to stop brainwashing children.”
One mother wondered why parents weren’t consulted on whether they wanted their children to learn about homosexuality or to receive the book. She also asked why all children were being given the book when only a small percentage would grow up to be LGBT.
She said: “Why don’t they designate a special school for children who have gay and lesbian issues?
“I want them to learn the proper way, and if they do change to be gay or lesbian when they’re older – the normal way of how people have actually come out – we will have to accept that.
“Don’t corrupt a four-year-old, a five-year-old. God’s law is Adam and Eve, and that’s how we grew up.”
Another mother said she wouldn’t have objected if they had given the book to older students. She said that by five or six years old they would have a better understanding of who they are.
She said: “That’s when they need help, or advice, or the support. At four years old, they don’t know nothing about the feeling, or the help, or know if they are lesbian or gay.”
She added that it wouldn’t be beneficial for the child if homosexuality was normalized before he or she reached puberty.
But Ezra Stripe, a spokesperson for Hidayah, a group that supports and uplifts LGBT Muslims, said that even young children needed to understand that two mothers or two fathers were normal and acceptable.
She said: “I have a five-year-old son and he has two mothers. The children in his class need to be aware that’s a family set up, whether their parents agree with it or not.”
She also said it was wrong to say Daddy’s Roommate and similar books wouldn’t encourage children to become gay because doing so implied there was something wrong with that outcome.
“I don’t think teaching a kid about homosexuality will make them homosexual. I do think it’s an inbuilt thing but at the same time, more people will realize it at a younger age if they have access to information about it.
“People go through life being miserable and not knowing what’s wrong with them, and they get to their mid-40’s and realize they’re gay.”
Roughly 10 percent of the population is gay or bisexual but only 5 percent in the UK are Muslim.
Stripe said: “We still talk about Islam in our classes and consider a religious education as not whole unless it has Islam in it.
“It’s the same argument about racist parents and sexist parents, but the school has to teach children to be a functioning member of society.
“It appropriate in a society that accepts LGBT people that children are taught to do that as well.”
Stripe added that most interpretations of the Quran consider homosexuality a sin but more modern and liberal scholars have found different interpretations.
The most recent survey found that 48 percent of UK Muslims accepted LGBT people as members of the community, Stripe said.
Given the trends, she sees a time when British Islam will embrace LGBT more fully.