Thursday, February 2, 2023 – A devout Christian who claims her four-year-old son was forced to take part in an LGBT pride parade is suing the school,
Izzy Montagu, 38, said she was told by the headteacher of Heavers Farm Primary School in South Norwood, southeast London, that her son could not opt out of the event in June 2018.
The school sent a letter to parents on 19 June inviting them to partake in a Pride march and ‘celebrate the differences that make them and their family special.’
But a week later, Mrs. Montague contacted the school ‘and asked for her son to be excused from attendance on 29 June as they were concerned of him being involved of a public display of adherence to views which she did not accept.’
Mrs. Montague’s request was refused by the headteacher Ms. Susan Papas so the parent replied with a lengthy email on 13 July, Central London County Court heard.
At the start of the eight-day case, Judge Christopher Lethem described Mrs. Montague and her husband as ‘devout born-again Christians, and they bear a belief that sexual relations should be abstained from or take place within a life-long marriage between a man and a woman and any activity outside those confines is sinful.
‘They also say pride is considered to be the most serious of the deadly sins.’
Mrs. Montague attended a meeting with Ms. Papas on 19 September in which the headteacher’s daughter wore a t-shirt with the slogan: ‘Why be racist, sexist, homophobic, or transphobic when you could just be quiet’’, the court heard.
Giving evidence Mrs. Montague told the court, prior to the incident, she had expressed concerns to her son’s teacher about the types of books they were reading in class.
Ian Clarke, representing the school, asked: ‘What books where they’’
Mrs. Montague said: ‘There was one reference to a same-sex family book.’
‘I believe it’s called The Family Book,’ said Mr. Clarke.
‘I can’t remember the exact name, just that was included in the lessons,’ she answered.
‘So you get this letter on 19 June and you see that it is about celebrating ‘the things that make our family special.’
Mrs. Montague replied: ‘It felt like it was lecturing me about something to do with British values and somehow we weren’t adhering to British values.’
‘You also say in your witness statement that the letter made a disparaging comment about the attitudes of parents… where does it say that’’ asked Mr Clarke.
Mrs Montague replied: ‘I just feel this letter was really trying to hammer into parents and drive into them something that’s not happened before.’
Mr. Clarke said: ‘You say the letter is forcing you into the indoctrination of an LGBT lifestyle, where does it say that’’
Mrs Montague told the court: ‘I don’t know I just felt a topic had come up.
‘I clearly was not in the know about it, but this was the way, in my opinion, to try to indoctrinate it onto us by passing it off that it was part of law or part of British values, or it was part of the national curriculum, it was trying to sell something no one wanted to buy.’
Reading from a blog published by the school on 18 June 2018. Mr Clarke said: ‘This June, the celebration of pride is about learning about the diversity of our whole school community and tackling bullying.’
He asked the parent: ‘As I understand you don’t have a problem of celebrating the diversity of the whole school community and tackling bullying’’
Ms Montague replied: ‘Me personally, it’s not something I would celebrate…… It’s not something I would choose to celebrate.
‘I think it’s good the wider community comes together, and we learn and live together.
‘I don’t know if you mean celebrate as have a party, it’s not something I would attend.’
Mr Clarke asked: ‘Isn’t the school simply using the month of June to celebrate wider issues of diversity and tolerance’’
Ms Montague replied: ‘I believe it’s using pride month and other issues around that time to sell pride month.
‘I think you can easily celebrate diversity without even having anything do with pride month.’
‘So, if they did it on 29 May would we all be sat here’’ asked Mr Clarke
‘If they did any form of celebration of any sexual lifestyles we will still be sat here,’ said Ms Montague
Mr Clarke asked: ‘So, the fact it is pride month is neither here nor there’’
‘A month that celebrates sexual lifestyles Is a problem in any month,’ said Ms Montague
Mrs Montague, supported by the Christian Legal Centre, is suing the school on the grounds of direct and indirect discrimination, victimisation and breach of statutory duty under the Education Act 1996 and the Human Rights Act 1998.
The hearing continues.