Joint statement of Muslim Scholars & Imams on LGBT row in schools

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Endorsed by over 140 Muslim Scholars and Imams

Beliefs about “sexuality” and LGBT in particular have been the subject of news coverage recently, due to hundreds of Muslim parents in Birmingham protesting at the actions of their children’s school senior leadership.

The United Kingdom is a multicultural society. The Muslim community is by no means the only community here, and while we encourage constructive, respectful debate of ideas, we condemn one community’s opinions and beliefs being forced upon others, no matter how big or small.

We, the undersigned, are inheritors of a scholarly tradition which from its inception enshrined a methodology for ensuring peaceful coexistence of different peoples, customs, beliefs and even legal systems. Whether it was different religious minorities having judicial and civic autonomy, or different schools of thought among Muslims having overlapping jurisdictions, tolerating differing opinions to relative degrees is in the DNA of Muslim scholars, and something our wider society today would do well to learn from.

One such thing we urge policy makers and executors to pay close attention to is the important distinction between facts and values. It is a fact to say that some people regard same-sex relationships as appropriate, due to their philosophical and moral views; and some people do not—just like it is a fact that some people regard eating meat to be appropriate and some do not. But to go beyond the facts into saying “It is OK and normal to…” is in the realm of values, which should not be imposed on people who disagree.

The types of relationships a person or community regards as good or bad, appropriate or inappropriate, normal or abnormal, are not the result of hard facts, but a product of many interacting beliefs and cultural norms about, for example, the purpose of life, desires and impulses, and conceptions of love, among other things.

Passionately believing in a cause or moral standpoint is one thing, but then enforcing it on others is unacceptable.

There is a clear and unambiguous acceptance in law that the primary givers of philosophical, moral and ethical values to children are their parents. Schools—or anyone else for that matter—may only educate in these areas on behalf of the parents.

When there is a conflict between the philosophical, moral or ethical positions of parents and teachers, schools must respect this and ensure teachers do not transgress the fact/value boundary mentioned above. This includes ideologically or socially-constructed norms which some may passionately believe to be universal facts whilst others do not—such as concerning “sexuality” or “gender”.

It goes without saying that we likewise affirm the rights of those who disagree with our opinions to do so without fear of insult, bullying or any type of oppression whatsoever. However, we also expect the same in return—particularly not being subjected to state enforcement of values and philosophical convictions.

We should respect and tolerate our differences, without the enforcing of some people’s positions on others, especially children.

Signatories