Page last updated at 13:42 GMT, Saturday, 7 March 2009

Action on tolerance class absence

An east London council has said it is treating the absence of children from lessons on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender history as "unauthorised".

Waltham Forest Council, which runs George Tomlinson Primary School in Leytonstone, said the classes were part of its policy of "promoting tolerance".

It said "action" had been taken but did not clarify the nature of the penalty.

Pervez Latif, a parent who withdrew his children, said the council had not told him what action was being taken.

We didn't know how detailed the lessons were going to be
Pervez Latif

Mr Lateef, who did not send his sons, aged nine and 10, to the classes, said the school did tell parents about the classes but did not discuss the content.

"We prefer to teach the children these issues ourselves and it is too early to learn about these issues.

"We didn't know how detailed the lessons were going to be and were merely given some information about what term a sexual behaviour involved between these groups of people (is called), so that's even more concerning as it's a bit more detailed than we'd thought."

Parents advised

A spokesperson for the council said: "As part of the borough's policy of promoting tolerance in our schools, children are taught that everyone in our society is of equal value.

"At George Tomlinson, parents were invited to meet with teachers and governors several weeks ago to discuss what work would be taking place throughout the national LGBT History Month, and how this work would be delivered.

"We are not aware of pupils being withdrawn from any other school in the borough.

"The council does not condone any unauthorised absence from school and action has been taken."

Mr Latif said no-one from the council had contacted him about any action over his decision.

"I thought that there may be a possibility but because we had made our concerns known to the school and the chair of governors, the chair of governors sounded very sympathetic so I thought probably they won't take any action."

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