LONDON — A mother in the United Kingdom has taken formal legal action against her son’s former elementary school after he was not permitted to opt out of an event in celebration of Pride Month last June.
According to reports, Heavers Farm Primary School in London held an event on June 29 called “Proud to Be Me,” which was initially planned as a march.
Izzy Montague was among those parents who lodged a complaint, and the school in turn changed its plans and organized a gathering rather than a march. However, parents were still advised that their children could not opt out as the event “related to the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils,” reports Christian Concern.
Photographs shared to Twitter by Labor Party Parliamentarian Steve Reed, who attended the event, show a group of children gathered on the basketball court, with some of them wearing handmade rainbow hats and/or holding artwork they had created. A rainbow flag is held up in the back of the group.
A flag was also draped inside the entrance of the school above words that read, “Welcome to Heavers Farm Primary School.”
Weeks later, Montague wrote a letter to the school, expressing her grievance that her four-year-old son was not allowed to opt out. In September, after not receiving answers, she continued to press the matter and was able to meet with head teacher Susan Papas.
However, Montague says she felt that the odds were already stacked against her as the head teacher’s daughter, who was present, was wearing a t-shirt that read, “Why be racist, sexist, homophobic, or transphobic, when you could just be quiet?”
She states that after the meeting, the school treated her differently, barring her from the building when she arrived to discuss concerns about her child being placed in detention on two separate occasions.
Montague and her husband, Shane, decided to remove their son from the school, and have now filed a legal complaint with the county court, alleging a breach or parental rights and harassment. They have also asked Secretary of State for Education, Damian Hinds, to intervene in the matter under the Education Act of 1996 and declare that students should not be forced to partake in controversial events.
The Montagues say that other parents have similarly had their concerns brushed aside by school officials.
“These children do not consent to taking part in something that, I believe, you need to be of a certain age to say, ‘I agree to this,’ Izzy Montague said in a video released by Christian Concern. “My child was four at the time and I think that was way beyond his scope to understand.”
“[A]s a parent, you are your first child’s educator,” she continued. “So, the fact that the school was trying to override a parent and say no—that is a problem, regardless of which side of the fence you’re on. It shouldn’t be a case that, ‘Oh well, you feel pressured, [and so] I’ll send my child to school and they have to do something because the school says so.’ The school is there for us, not the other way around.”