BRITAIN: Officials at the Department for Education are looking into dozens of schools and academies whose official sex education policies include clauses replicating Section 28, the law which was blamed for discrimination against gay people.
Among the schools listed are the Grace Academies, three schools in the West Midlands which describe themselves as having Christian ethics.
Section 28, introduced by the Thatcher Government, was a clause in the Local Government Act 1988 which forbade councils from allowing teaching which promoted the “acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship”. It was repealed by Tony Blair in 2003, with support from Conservatives. Shortly after becoming Tory leader, David Cameron also apologised for his party’s previous role in supporting Section 28 and in power he has overseen a change in the law to allow same-sex couples to marry.
According to research at least 44 schools and academy groups in England have sex and relationship education policies which either echo the controversial clause or appear not to be aware that it had been repealed.
“It seems that some schools, perhaps not knowingly, are still using guidance from before Labour’s repeal of Section 28.“Labour got rid of Section 28 in 2003 to ensure that schools taught about homosexuality in an open and honest way. Homophobic bullying is still too common in schools, we must ensure that we redouble our efforts to tackle such prejudice.”Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, Stephen Twigg has said,
He added that Michael Gove must intervene to ensure that all schools obey their duties under the Equality Act.
Pavan Dhaliwal, head of public affairs at the BHA said: “It is simply unacceptable that over a decade after the repeal of the pernicious section 28 that these schools continue to enforce similar policies, while others have statements which are overly vague on this matter.
“All of the schools identified must urgently review their sex and relationships education policies to ensure that all pupils, whatever their sexual orientation or gender identity, are treated with equal respect and understanding and that homophobic and transphobic bullying is stamped out.”
A handful of schools identified by the group have already taken their policy statements down and pledged to review them.
A spokesman for the Department for Education said: “What these schools have done by singling out homosexuality is unacceptable.
“All schools can draw up their own sex education policy but they must ensure they do not discriminate unfairly on grounds of sexual orientation.
“Our sex and relationship education guidance makes it clear that schools should not promote any sexual orientation.
“The DfE will be looking into these schools.”
The group’s policy, published on its website, says: “Objective discussion of homosexuality may take place in the classroom, including discussion of homophobic behaviour.”But it adds: “The Governing Body will not permit the promotion of homosexuality.”Similarly the policy used by the Crest Academies, which offer single sex education, allows “objective discussion” of the surrounding issues, but adds: “The governing body will not permit the promotion of homosexuality.”