Recently, there has been a series of worrying incidents – in places like Birmingham, Batley, and Wakefield – where religious groups have, directly or indirectly, unduly influenced the operation of schools. These groups have done so on the basis of ‘blasphemy’ by pupils or staff, or citing religious opposition to LGBT people’s rights.

In each instance, innocent pupils and teachers at the centre of these incidents have been abused and received death threats. One man was forced into hiding out of fear for his safety. This is unacceptable and cannot be allowed to happen again.

We think it’s time for clarity from the UK Government on how schools in England can uphold universal human values and manage disruptive outside influences. We are asking for written guidance on upholding free expression and tolerance in schools, as well as instructions for the police and local councils on how to robustly handle these situations and threats of violence.

Great Britain does not have any ‘blasphemy’ laws – and the Government should assist schools to resist pressure to act as if it does.

Sign our petition today to tell the Department for Education to:

  • With regard to the boys at the centre of the latest incident, in Wakefield, make clear that suspending children from school for ‘blasphemy’ is wrong.
  • Issue guidance to schools making clear that ‘blasphemy’ shouldn’t be censured when explored in a lesson in a sensitive way, or in normal interactions between pupils. By overreacting to hostile outside pressure, schools leave themselves open to expensive legal challenges and put a target on the backs of staff and pupils.
  • Empower state schools to stand up to religious bullying in the community and stop religious leaders from interfering in school curriculum, student life, or discipline.

By signing, you will also be telling the Home Office to:

  • Issue guidance to the police on dealing with ‘blasphemy issues’, making clear that accusations of blasphemy are not a police matter, but targeted harassment and threats to life and physical safety are criminal offences. Police have a duty to respond robustly to all threats of violence.
  • Issue guidance to councils reminding councillors that blasphemy is not a crime in Britain and that free speech is protected in law. Clashes involving religious communities can be further inflamed when councillors clumsily intervene on social media, even if done with good intent.
  • Remind councils that they have the power to issue Public Space Protection Orders to protect schools from experiencing disruption from religious protesters.

Sign now, and make your voice heard. Stop punishing children for ‘blasphemy’!