Humanists UK welcomes Labour’s commitment for protest buffer zones around schools

3 April, 2024

Pictured: Keir Starmer – Leader of the Labour Party of the United Kingdom ©UK Parliament / Jessica Taylor (CC BY-NC 2.0) Flickr

Humanists UK has welcomed a commitment from Leader of the Labour Party, Keir Starmer, that a Labour government would introduce 150-metre protest buffer zones outside schools. Keir Starmer’s promise comes after the release of Dame Sara Khan’s Social Cohesion Review, to which Humanists UK submitted evidence.

Among the many recommendations was one for a 150-metre buffer zone around primary and secondary schools to block intimidating or ‘freedom-restricting’ activists from demonstrating outside school gates and subjecting families and teachers to harassment. In recent years, schools have been subjected to protests from religious parents and groups in response to LGBT-inclusive Relationships and Sex Education and the portrayal of Muhammad in teaching resources about ‘blasphemy’. Speaking to the press in support of the proposal late last week, Keir Starmer said schools ‘should not be a place for protest’.

Previously, Muslim-led protests in Birmingham over LGBT content in lessons became so disruptive to learning that the High Court had to lay down a permanent ban on certain individuals from protesting outside one particular school.

A call from Humanists UK for the UK Government to provide guidance on how to robustly respond to accusations of blasphemy – which inevitably endangers members of the school community –  was accepted by the then Home Secretary only to be the subject of a u-turn by the Department for Education days later. A report for the UK Government early in March suggested that it should recognise ‘anti-blasphemy extremism’ as a distinct category of extremism, while the Social Cohesion Review last week recommended the Government develop a strategic approach to ‘freedom-restricting harassment’ in schools and community settings.

Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Kathy Riddick said:

‘Schools should be a place of learning but recent events show that legislation is needed to keep them free of outside intimidation. Although we hope to see Dame Sara Khan’s recommendation implemented as soon as possible, we welcome Keir Starmer’s commitment that any future Labour government would protect children and teachers from harassment and introduce protest buffer zones around primary and secondary schools.’


For further comment or information, media should contact Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Kathy Riddick at or phone 07534 248 596.

Related news from 2019-2020:

Read more about our work on blasphemy in schools.

Read about our response to Dame Sara Khan’s Social Cohesion Review.

Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by over 120,000 members and supporters, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. We provide ceremonies, pastoral care, education, and support services benefitting over a million people every year and our campaigns advance humanist thinking on ethical issues, human rights, and equal treatment for all.