Schools Out today joined ACCORD in slamming the government for granting special treatment, to allow religious schools to teach homophobic values.
Ed Balls has had to defend the amendments to the Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) proposals in the face of criticism.
The proposals, passed in the House today, will make SRE a statutory subject in all schools and will remove the get-out clause from pupils over 15. They will also enforce objective teaching about Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual (LGB) relationships, as well as contraception and abortion. However, the government has caved in to religious lobbyists and will allow religious schools to teach that homosexuality is wrong.
ACCORD, a group of religious, secular and trade union stakeholders in education, say that this will water down the provisions of the bill and thereby fuel homophobia. The Department of Children Schools and Families, however, claim that it will be illegal to teach homophobia in schools.
Schools Out co-chair, Tony Fenwick, said:
“These amendments are an appeasement: a compromise. While we welcome the fact that no state school can get out of teaching Sex and Relationships Education or cherry-pick the aspects it wants to teach, we are disappointed that they can play the faith card and tell LGB children that what they are thinking and feeling is wrong. To my knowledge there is no other area of the curriculum in which headteachers and teachers are permitted to make subjective judgements.
“And don’t forget that one third of the nation’s schools are faith schools. We’re not talking about handfuls here – nor are we talking about particular branches of the major religions. One third of the schools in our country can use these amendments to exclude and marginalise LGB pupils. If that isn’t homophobia – what is?
“Furthermore, where does gender variance fit in to all this? Presumably some schools will allow their staff to tell children that changing gender is wrong too.
“There is guidance on the DCSF website on how to combat homophobia and transphobia in schools and we welcome that. But it is disheartening to hear that the same department is bowing to pressure from some groups who want to preach in the classroom as they do in their places of worship”.