Daniel Pryor reports on UK academies’ controversial sex education policies.
Those concerned about Russia’s recent suppression of LGBT rights may want to look closer to home. It has emerged that several British academies have produced sexual education policies reminiscent of ‘Section 28’: a controversial amendment to the Local Government Act 1988 which stated that no local authority shall ‘intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality’.
Castle View Enterprise Academy, Swindon Academy and Colston Girl’s School have all come under fire from LGBT commentators for forbidding the ‘promotion of homosexuality’ in their Sex and Relationships Education policy. Speaking to Gay Star News, Wes Streeting ̶ the Head of Education for Stonewall (a prominent gay rights group) ̶ commented:
“Head teachers and governors who are only prepared to acknowledge gay people in the context of stopping their pupils from catching HIV and AIDS are simply not up to the job of educating and safeguarding the children in their care”.
Whilst a spokesperson for the Green Party’s LGBTIQ group advocated tackling such policies with a ‘national mandatory curriculum ensuring that every school gives students the information they need about sex and sexuality’, others have resorted to methods external to the state, such as petitioning the schools’ respective Headteachers using Change.org. Opponents of the schools’ policies argue that support and advice for LGBT students at the schools who are being bullied may be curtailed, due to such actions being classified as ‘promotion’ of homosexuality.
Dylan Morris, libertarian and respected Tory advocate of LGBT rights, told The Backbencher:
“Mrs Thatcher’s time as Prime Minister was, on the whole, a fantastic period in British political history, but there are some policies, of which Section 28 is a prominent one, which LGBT members of the Conservatives would like to forget. This policy is a harrowing reminder that the homophobia of the 80s which, though not as widespread, still exists in Britain’s schools, and it’s something that I’ll be campaigning vigorously against – something that I hope the rest of the Conservative Party will join me in opposing.”
The British Humanist Association has since identified 45 schools that continue to have Section 28-like policies.
UPDATE: Since becoming aware of this story, Castle View Enterprise Academy have issued the following statement to The Backbencher:
“Castle View Enterprise Academy (CVEA) promotes inclusivity without prejudice and has adopted a “Single Equality Policy” which is updated in line with recent legislation.
“Incorrect information, which was one of several policy drafts shared by schools and project management companies as examples before the Academy opened, has been removed from its website. The drafts were never formally approved by the Governors and not adopted.”
Janet Bridges, Academy Principal, said: “We are thankful that this administrative error has been brought to our attention and apologise for any upset it may have caused.””
This website awaits the responses of the other two academies named in this article, which have thus far been unavailable for comment.