Christian mother in school Pride row was ‘lectured’ about Stonewall, court hears

Izzy Montague’s request for her son to be excused from the Pride parade was denied by the school’s headteacher - Central News/Christian Concern
Izzy Montague’s request for her son to be excused from the Pride parade was denied by the school’s headteacher - Central News/Christian Concern

A Christian woman who claims her son was forced to join in his school's LGBT+ Pride parade alleged that staff "lectured" her about Stonewall when she complained.

Izzy Montague, 38, is taking Heavers Farm Primary School to court after claiming she was told by the school’s headteacher that her four-year-old son could not opt out of the June 2018 event.

At the time, the school, in South Norwood, south-east London, sent a letter to parents saying that it would be “celebrating the differences that make you and your child’s family special”.

However, Mrs Montague’s request for her son to be excused was denied by the school’s headteacher, Susan Papas. As a result, she took legal action against the school in what is believed to be the first time that a UK court will assess the legality of LGBT+ teachings and compulsory activities in primary schools.

The Central London County Court heard on Thursday that after the summer holidays the school held a meeting with Mrs Montague on September 19, 2018, to discuss her complaint.

During that meeting, Ms Papas’s daughter, who also works for the school, was present and wore a T-shirt with the slogan: “Why be racist, sexist, homophobic, or transphobic when you could just be quiet?”.

'More a lecture than a conversation'

Giving evidence, Mrs Montague was asked what was said in the meeting. She told the hearing: “I believe the full conversation [with Ms Papas’ daughter] wasn’t a conversation more of a lecture about Stonewall fighting for everybody’s rights including women’s rights and black civil rights and ‘thank the lord’ for Stonewall because myself and other members of the school wouldn’t have been able to attend the school.”

She added: “I was absolutely mortified about what I was hearing so I looked on my phone just to be able to read it out in full about what Stonewall actually is and it has nothing to do with the Black Civil Rights movement and we don’t need to thank Stonewall for our freedom and rights.”

Mrs Montague also accused Mrs Papas of being a “bully” and alleged that the school is corrupt.

“I believe anyone who decided that children should march for LGBT should not be a head of a primary school,” she said.

'A form of corruption'

She added that the school “sold itself as welcoming to the community, but it certainly wasn’t welcoming to my family and our Christian views, and I think that’s a form of corruption”.

Supported by the Christian Legal Centre, Mrs Montague 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 court has previously heard that Mrs Montague objected to the notion of her son’s class singing songs such as Sister Sledge’s We Are Family on the basis that they were “gay anthems”.

At the start of the case, Judge Christopher Lethem described Mrs Montague and her husband as “devout born-again Christians” and said they believe 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”.

The case continues.