Amanda Spielman has voiced her support for diversity in education on numerous occasions.
Speaking at the annual conference for the National Association of Head Teachers, Ofsted chief Amanda Spielman urged for better dialogue between LGBTQ and religious groups over arguments concerning the teaching of LGBTQ issues.
Her comments came as debate rages over the No Outsiders initiative in Parkfield Academy, which teaches children about diversity, including sexual orientation and gender identity.
The initiative has created protests in Birmingham, with 600 students being pulled from the school at one point. The lessons have received backing from the Education Secretary Damian Hinds.
At the conference, Spielman said: “The Equality Act is designed to enforce a number of different rights, and of course there are places where these different rights can bump into each other. We need to acknowledge and discuss this a bit more.
“One clear tension exists in places where equality between the sexes comes second to religious belief and cultural preferences. Another tension arises between religious belief and relationship education, in the context of LGBT issues.
“And that is all we are talking about here – not sex education, but a simple understanding that just as families worship differently, families also love and marry differently.”
She added: “It would be a huge step backwards if schools became reluctant to teach children about the diversity of modern Britain. I continue to hope that dialogue will remove misconceptions, help people see the bigger picture, and find sensible and workable solutions.”
Spielman has been a vocal supporter of the No Outsiders initiative. In comments made in February, she said: “It’s making sure they know just enough to know that some people prefer not to get married to somebody of the opposite sex, and sometimes there are families that have two mummies or two daddies.
“It’s about making sure that children who do happen to realise that they themselves may not fit a conventional pattern know that they’re not bad [and] they’re not ill.”
In later comments, she said that the anti-LGBTQ protests set a “terrible example for kids” explaining: “I understand the strength of feeling in that community.
“But it serves no one well to intimidate teachers and start protesting outside the school gates. All that does is make a difficult situation worse, while setting a terrible example for the children. It is children’s voices that always get lost when adults stop talking and start shouting.
“It must be better to engage in calm discussions in order to find a sensible middle ground – one that means children are prepared for life in a diverse, modern, progressive country like ours, but it’s done in a sensitive and careful manner that respects the concerns of age, religion or any other background or context.”