Is it illegal to promote homosexuality in schools?

(93 Posts)
Reality Fri 08-Mar-13 10:21:58

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

motherinferior Fri 08-Mar-13 10:25:50

It must be specific to the school. Surely?

Or my nephews' primary head, who told them all how happy he was that he and his (male) partner having a civil ceremony that weekend, because they loved each other, would presumably have been doing something illegal.

Trills Fri 08-Mar-13 10:29:04

Schools shouldn't especially "promote" any lifestyle, should they?

They shouldn't promote marriage above being single, shouldn't promote living on your own vs living with others, shouldn't promote having relationships with people of your own sex above having relationships with the opposite sex, shouldn't promote keeping cats above keeping dogs shouldn't promote having children above not having children.

Or vice versa.

Reality Fri 08-Mar-13 10:30:05

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

YouTheCat Fri 08-Mar-13 10:30:55

There are plenty of lessons about acceptance at our school. Acceptance that people are different, including some being gay, some being disabled, others having different religions, etc.

In order to promote homosexuality they would have to be saying it was preferable but they won't be. They will be just pointing out that it is perfectly normal with in the bounds of relationships and that there are all kinds of families.

Trills Fri 08-Mar-13 10:32:34

You're in Sussex, right, not Kent?
Wikipedia says that Section 28, a law saying that homosexuality should not be "promoted" in schools, was repealed in 2003.

"This passed the Lords, received Royal Assent on 18 September 2003, and the repeal became effective on 18 November 2003.
The Conservative-run Kent County Council, however, decided to create their own version of Section 28 to keep the effect of the now repealed law in their schools.[25] This was replaced on 16 December 2004 with provisions stating that heterosexual marriage and family relationships are the only firm foundations for society.[26] The statement now says: "We will ensure that sex education values family and marriage as the foundation of a civilised society, and a firm basis for the nurturing of children."[27]"

Ilovesunflowers Fri 08-Mar-13 10:33:00

Agree with trills. It's not a discriminatory thing. It's because schools shouldnt promote lifestyle choices related to sexuality, religion, marriage etc.

MooncupGoddess Fri 08-Mar-13 10:33:56

Sounds very much like a Section 28 hangover to me... quite concerning that they haven't updated it. Do email them.

Trills Fri 08-Mar-13 10:34:58

You don't agree with me then, sunflowers, because I do think it is discriminatory to explicitly say "we do not promote X" and not say "we do not promote Y, or Z, and in fact we do not promote anything".

MooncupGoddess Fri 08-Mar-13 10:35:00

Bloody hell Trills, I had no idea about the Kent thing! Am appalled.

Eebahgum Fri 08-Mar-13 10:35:03

Hmmmmm. Not too sure whether it's illegal or not but unsure about the wordingof the policy. Does promoting not imply "come and be gay - it's brilliant!"? I'd like to think that most schools nowadays teach children that there are different kinds of relationship which are all equally valid. I kind of read this policy as a reassurance to homophobic parents that just because the school teaches about homosexuality doesn't mean they're going to 'turn' them.

Trills Fri 08-Mar-13 10:36:11

The repeal of Section 28 means that schools don't have to have a policy of "not promoting homosexuality", it's no longer a legal requirement for them to do so, but they can write it into their rules if they like.

Reality Fri 08-Mar-13 10:36:37

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ScottyDoc Fri 08-Mar-13 10:43:05

Question: does NOT being in favour of homosexuality define a person as homophobic? Although that person does not discriminate/treat a gay person in a bad manner and has friends who are gay?


Fallenangle Fri 08-Mar-13 10:54:53

They just haven't bothered to update their very old policy. It must have been reviewed several times and, depending on which policy it is from, should probably have had a root and branch review when the Equalities Act was introduced.

Eebahgum Fri 08-Mar-13 10:54:59

I would say so. I don't see homophobic as necessarily discriminatory, but more a mindset that homosexual people are not equal to heterosexual people in some way. For example that they shouldn't be able to do certain things that heterosexual people are allowed to do.

I don't really understand why anyone should be 'not in favour of homosexuality'. Why? Some people are homosexual; so why would anyone need to be in favour of it or not? It's like asking if you are in favour of giraffes.

Eebahgum Fri 08-Mar-13 11:02:50

A fabulous point well made arbitrary user name.

kim147 Fri 08-Mar-13 11:03:38

This is an interesting video on "acceptance" vs "tolerance" when it comes to homosexuality.

FierceBadIggi Fri 08-Mar-13 11:03:52

Where I live, schools have re-written equality policies (in line with equality act) and they have to include reference to the protected characteristics that apply to children, which include sexual orientation.
I can discuss the "specific nature of homosexual sex" if I want, though outside of sex ed I'd want to avoid the mechanics, and focus far more on relationships.

Earthymama Fri 08-Mar-13 11:05:57

I am definately in favour of giraffes!!

FierceBadIggi Fri 08-Mar-13 11:06:12

Arbitrary, but you're forgetting all the people who could be zebras but willfully choose to be giraffes because they like the colours and the giraffey lifestyle better. Plus, it's ok to be a giraffe but you don't have to actually indulge in giraffe practices such as eating leaves from tops of trees.

Trills Fri 08-Mar-13 11:11:17

Trills, I'm pretty sure there's no LEGAL requirement to not promote/advocate/represent homosexuality?

Yes that's what I said.

Prior to the repeal of Section 28 schools were legally required to have a clause like the one you quoted in their rules.

Now they do not have to have that clause, but neither are they prevented from having one.

OxfordBags Fri 08-Mar-13 11:11:28

EehBahGum, did you actually just say that homophobia is not discriminatory?!?!?! Like racism and sexism aren't, eh? hmm

FFS, thinking that someone is not equal to others and shouldn't be allowed to do things those other people are allowed to do is the exact description of discrimination. Jesus wept.

Homosexuality IS the norm. For gay individuals and for society in general. All sexuality is decided in utero by the end of the first trimester.

I also don't see how you can be not in favour of homosexuality. It's not like it's an option or a choice, or anything wrong in any way. As Arbitrary says, it's like saying you're not in favour of giraffes. Or clouds, or shoelaces. It makes you sound incredibly immature and thick to say such a thing, and as though you have the emotional and intellectual capacity of a toddler who unreasonably expects the world to be solely how they want it to be, like wanting a pear to be cutted up and untouched simultaneously!

OP, this is really shitty and possibly/probably illegal. Or legally dubious. It is certainly morally dubious and I would bring it up with the head in very strong terms, personally. I don't think I could allow my child to be at a school with a specific policy of hatred. Yes, homophobes, that's what it is.

Eebahgum Fri 08-Mar-13 11:11:28

Ha ha fierce bad Iggy!

LazyMonkeyButler Fri 08-Mar-13 11:11:30

Is there any need to "promote" any form of sexuality at all? People are what they are, anyone who is homosexual is unlikely to have made a choice to be so, due to positive promotion. Likewise, if you are heterosexual that is just the way you are - no promotion necessary. We are not choosing a washing powder.

As far as I can see, all a primary school needs to be doing on the subject is reinforcing the fact that different relationships/homelives are equally "normal" and valid. Not promoting anything above anything else.

OxfordBags Fri 08-Mar-13 11:12:54

(Second part of my above comment not directed at EehBahGum, btw, but in general)

OxfordBags Fri 08-Mar-13 11:14:18

Lazy, no, no sexuality needs to be specifically 'promoted', but these things are cleverly worded to mask the fact that they actually want homosexuality to appear to not exist, or be seen as abnormal, immoral or whatever, if it is to be discussed.

Reality Fri 08-Mar-13 11:14:53

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Eebahgum Fri 08-Mar-13 11:15:26

Sorry for the bad choice of words Oxford. I was trying to disagree with Scotty but clearly didn't do it very well. I meant that homophobia doesn't need to be displayed through actions - an attitude or opinion is still homophobic.

FierceBadIggi Fri 08-Mar-13 11:17:43

I think you might be misunderstanding what Eehbahgum meant? I took it to mean homophobia didn't have to refer to actual acts of discrimination, but included attitudes as well.
But I'm sure she can explain for herself!

FierceBadIggi Fri 08-Mar-13 11:18:18


MidniteScribbler Fri 08-Mar-13 11:18:21

I think that it would have to depend on the incident in question and it can be all in the wording. We would never "promote" a particular lifestyle in our school - eg "Be gay kids, it's da bomb!", but likewise we wouldn't promote a heterosexual lifestyle, or any other form of lifestyle either. That's not part of my job as a teacher. We do teach that all families are "normal" and may be made up differently, but in no way would make judgements on which is "better".

kim147 Fri 08-Mar-13 11:21:01

The thing is though - you have the hidden curriculum. Schools give off a lot of messages through stories, posters and what just what they say which makes hetersexuality "normal" - ideally a married family but that's getting better.

Gay children have said that they don't see themselves represented in school through the hidden curriculum - in exactly the same way children from BME backgrounds don't see themselves in the curriculum.

The hidden curriculum sends a very powerful message to children about "normal".

I don't think anyone actually does 'promote' homosexuality. A lot of effort goes in to promoting particular versions of heterosexuality though. The hidden curriculum is a big issue, but so are stances like Kent county council's which insist that church sanctioned heterosexuality (I.e. marriage and nuclear families) must be promoted at all costs. And the costs of the aggressive promotion of heterosexuality in society are very problematic indeed.

kim147 Fri 08-Mar-13 11:49:07

This is an interesting report on the experience of gay children in schools.

BarbarianMum Fri 08-Mar-13 11:55:06

OP I would not be a happy zebra if I saw that wording in my school's policies.

For all those suggesting that it is not the place of schools to 'promote' lifestyles, aren't you just a little bit suspicious that it is this lifestyle in particular that the school is specifically stating it won't promote?

I always found the language described here odd...

"Promoting" homosexuality gives me images of teachers saying "Being gay is great! Give it a try younglings!"

And being "in favour" or "agreeing" is odd as well...

I am very much in favour of giraffes as well as it goes....they have 45cm long black tongues...that's pretty awesome.

OxfordBags Fri 08-Mar-13 12:00:14

Ah, sorry, EehBahGum, I was a bit WTF as it didn't seem to tally with other things you've written blush

Greensleeves Fri 08-Mar-13 12:00:43

Unless the are handing out cupcakes with "Get Your Gay On!" in pink icing, I wouldn't worry that a school was actively promoting homosexuality

but I do expect the teachers to leave their personal prejudices aside and ensure that children know homosexual relationships/same sex parents/any other kind of legal relationship/family set-up is fine and normal and nothing to get excited about.

lrichmondgabber Fri 08-Mar-13 12:08:19

to promate maybe. But not to explain it to older children

Yannah2006 Fri 08-Mar-13 12:20:13

I think their wording of the policy is awful. It's a bit ambiguous. I'm not sure about the legality of it i'm afraid.

Some of you might find this interesting. It was posted by the Coalition for Equal Marriage fb page. This man is the most unbelievable gitbag....

Eebahgum Fri 08-Mar-13 12:33:53

No problem Oxford. Just off to bake some "get your gay on" cupcakes! smile

TheFallenNinja Fri 08-Mar-13 12:39:27

Schools should stick to the 3rs over and above everything.

Promotion of any one thing over another is bad in my view.

FierceBadIggi Fri 08-Mar-13 12:45:42

Remember that when your dcs are being bullied Ninja, no time must be spent promoting an anti-bullying, respectful culture at the school.

bangwhizz Fri 08-Mar-13 12:56:57

But being gay is NOT the norm is it?

kim147 Fri 08-Mar-13 13:01:04

It's your normal if you're gay.

BarbarianMum Fri 08-Mar-13 13:02:54

It is not the modal sexuality bangwhizz but it is normal. Just like green eyes are less common than brown or blue.

motherinferior Fri 08-Mar-13 13:03:18

IT's the norm to have a significant number of lesbian and gay people around, yes. For a number of those children, their norm will be gay.

Eebahgum Fri 08-Mar-13 13:05:06

The 3rs fallen ninja? No pe then? Art? Technology? ICT? Wow - that sounds like an exciting curriculum!

trockodile Fri 08-Mar-13 13:16:36 this is a good site to look at and you could probably ask him to clarify it for you. Shaun is gay and the deputy head of a primary school and does a lot of work with schools on how to prevent bullying and homophobia within schools.
I think that the policy you mention is wrong and would not send DS to a school with that policy. Homosexuality is as normal as having red hair IMO (ie less common but just as normal) and should be portrayed as such in any good school. That is not promoting homosexuality it is accepting and educating-surely the role of a good school.
Also thing that sex should be discussed in an age appropriate manner whether gay, straight or lesbian particularly with regards to safe sex and all teens should be taught about diversity and sexuality including where to safely find out more as opposed to stumbling about blindly on the Internet.

RevoltingPeasant Fri 08-Mar-13 13:37:28

At the risk of being RevoltingPedant, can I just say.....

Being gay is not a 'lifestyle', it's a sexuality/ sexual orientation. I think it's quite important that those are differentiated as lifestyle implies a choice.

I live in the suburbs in a semi-detached house and drive a Toyota: I have a middle-class professional lifestyle based on choices I made.

I also identify as heterosexual. This is not so much based on choices I made (though I s'pose social conditioning might come into it) but more based on a deep, physical attraction to rugby players men.

CoteDAzur Fri 08-Mar-13 13:40:52

I think you should note that the bit you are quoting in the OP talks about promoting homosexual behavior as the norm, and not promoting it in general.

bemybebe Fri 08-Mar-13 13:59:56

Unless I am missing something (English is not my first language), being a homosexual is the norm in a sense that having brown/blue/green/grey eyes is the norm. It is not the norm for a brown eyed person to have blue eyes, but it is a norm in a wider population. So, if being homosexual is the norm than behaving as one when a homosexual is the norm also. That is unless being a homosexual is considered undesirable, which is a totally different ball game.

bemybebe Fri 08-Mar-13 14:00:51

Sorry for mixing my articles, but I hope you get a gist.

CoteDAzur Fri 08-Mar-13 14:03:09

Something is "the norm" when most people do it. It means usual, typical, standard.

Homosexuality is normal, but it is not the norm.

kim147 Fri 08-Mar-13 14:10:30

Lots of pedantry about "norm" and "normal".
I do think it's important schools tackle homophobic bullying and do make an effort at making sure children who are homosexual know they are valued, have somewhere to turn to and that there is nothing wrong with being homosexual.

I think this is confusing the issue. 'Normal' as opposed to 'deviant' is a nasty, outdated way of looking at sexuality, and it's not the same thing as saying that the majority of people in our society live as heterosexuals rather than homosexuals.

I'd avoid the word 'normal' in this context, I don't see how it's useful.

bemybebe Fri 08-Mar-13 14:18:29

I appreciate you answering my question Cote but somehow I think "the norm" in the OP's abstract from a policy refers to societal expectations from an individual or a group of individuals and not to the actions of the majority.

At least because nobody argues that being a homosexual or behaving as one (whatever that means) is what "most people do".

ninjasquirrel Fri 08-Mar-13 14:33:33

You can't 'promote' homosexuality as as a lifestyle choice. But I hope that when my son goes to school it will promote acceptance of homosexuality as a normal way of being and have a good anti-bullying policy including homophobic bullying. Because gay young people have a right to that as a minimum.

JakeBullet Fri 08-Mar-13 14:53:19

The secondary school my niece attends has all manner of info leaflets and drop in sessions about a variety of things and homosexuality is among that....about accetance etc. Her school is Catholic but a "real world" Catholic school.

'Normal' isn't that useful a concept in understanding most social phenomena. In most cases, 'normal' becomes a value judgement more than anything else ('normal'=good; 'abnormal'= bad).

The fact is that both homosexual and heterosexual people exist in society (as well as people who identify their sexuality in other ways). Heterosexual people outnumber other groups, but that doesn't make them 'right' or 'better'. Just more numerous. Policies that imply otherwise are hugely problematic.

CoteDAzur Sat 09-Mar-13 15:39:45

"You can't 'promote' homosexuality as as a lifestyle choice"

That is not what the OP is talking about, but yes, it is possible and arguably already happening. Men see a lot of "girl-on-girl" action in porn, and come to appreciate it and expect it from girls they meet. Girls see women dancing provocatively together in music videos and think this is normal. They see men turned on by this and think it is sexy. They want to play the part.

I can't comment on how prevalent this is elsewhere, but it has been going on for at least the last 10 years where I live in the South of France.

CoteDAzur Sat 09-Mar-13 15:42:31

"In most cases, 'normal' becomes a value judgement more than anything else ('normal'=good; 'abnormal'= bad)."

If so, that is a misuse of the term. "Normal" means normal. It doesn't mean "good".

"The fact is that both homosexual and heterosexual people exist in society"

Yes, and that is why we said homosexuality is "normal".

"Heterosexual people outnumber other groups, but that doesn't make them 'right' or 'better'. Just more numerous."

Yes, and that is why homosexuality is not "the norm".

What seems to be the problem?

In the context of sexuality, the description of someone's sexuality as 'not normal' or the opposition of 'normal' to 'deviant' are both things that have a pretty long history. One might as well object that 'gay' means 'happy' and to use it to mean 'homosexual' is a misuse of the term.

Talkinpeace Sat 09-Mar-13 15:46:28

One of the things I still find surprising is how utterly cool my kids and their friends are about kids who are contentedly "out" at age 14.
No repression, no comment, no bullying, just acceptance of difference.

Kids today do not realise how lucky they are to live in a society so much more tolerant than even 30 years ago.

CoteDAzur Sat 09-Mar-13 15:53:17

Nobody is saying "normal", "not normal", or "deviant" here, so I don't know what you are trying to say. Nobody here is saying it. OP isn't saying it. What OP quotes doesn't mention it, either.

They do, though, cote - that's why people find 'normal' a poor term to use in this context, I think. I'm certainly not accusing the OP of saying any such thing, just explaining why 'normal' isn't the most helpful term to use in the context of sexuality.

'The norm' is exactly the same as saying 'normal' in the context. And you're dreadfully naive if you don't think the general usage of 'normal' in society is anything other than a judgement.

TiggyD Sat 09-Mar-13 20:34:38

Sounds like a hangover from Section 28.

So they have to teach children of parents in a same sex relationship that their parents aren't normal. Hmm. How is that not discriminatory and how will it stop bullying?

Knowsabitabouteducation Sat 09-Mar-13 20:35:25

How can you promote homosexuality?

bangwhizz Sat 09-Mar-13 21:41:34

'The norm' is exactly the same as saying 'normal' in the context'

.. no it isn't unless you have a very poor grasp of the English Language.'The norm' is a singular thing whilst lots of things might be considered normal

CoteDAzur Sun 10-Mar-13 10:18:46

Who is "they", LRD?

Can you see them now?

BoffinMum Sun 10-Mar-13 11:16:59

The only thing I am aware of schools promoting is not to take having children too lightly and to be aware four hands are a lot better than two from a domestic labour point of view in child rearing terms. Pretty uncontroversial. They also promote anti bullying and anti DV in relationships, safe sex and good communication in relationships. This all applies in a lot of contexts, of course.

TiggyD Sun 10-Mar-13 11:51:24

The school in question says it combats bullying, but if a child says "Billy has 2 Dads! That's not normal is it?" in class, what can the teacher say? According to their policy the teacher has to say "No, it's not normal".

Poor Billy.

Cote, this is an internet forum. None of us can see each other. That is why we are typing. smile

'They' is the third person plural, often used to refer to a group of people. smile

And, btw, I completely agree with tiggy, that is the practical side of it that we get to when we've stopped quibbling about language. A small child is only going to understand the colloquial implications of 'not normal', and he or she is going to be upset.

Snoopingforsoup Sun 10-Mar-13 12:23:27

Is it a faith school? I would imagine they're likely to get away with that sort of crap...

ReallyTired Sun 10-Mar-13 12:26:38

I haven't read the entire, but I do not want my children to be encouraged to have sex! End of!

If two people have sex then they need to be responsible for each other's sexual health. This applies to both homosexual and hetrosexual relationships. Children are a huge and life changing responsiblity and its important that children realise this.

I hope that schools teach chidlren that everyone deserves respect and that familes come in all different shapes and sizes.

kim147 Sun 10-Mar-13 12:29:31

Messages schools give off are very important to children - as I said upthread, the hidden curriculum plays a massive role in what children see as "typical" - and it can be distressing if they do not see themselves or their families recognised in some way. Schools give off messages all the time - when they talk about famous scientists, people in history and when they read stories or put posters up.

Tiggy has made the clear point - when most people say "normal", there is a clear meaning if what children think normal means. Language is important - and schools will have to get used to the fact that families come in many different and varied types and they should not judge or put down the family type because of what the school or teacher thinks.

Reality Sun 10-Mar-13 12:47:37

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

That sounds really dodgy. Poor children. They're going to feel as if they've asked something horrible that shouldn't be talked about. sad

MooncupGoddess Sun 10-Mar-13 12:55:01

Can you write politely to the governors for clarification? Try referencing the Equalities Act and see what they say.

"the specific nature of homosexual sex should not be discussed" - this is weird and, as you say, concerning. Also, odd, as lots of gay men don't have anal sex anyway (which is what I assume it's referring to).

TiggyD Sun 10-Mar-13 13:06:11

And Hetrosexualists can have anal sex.

And gay men are not the only kind of homosexuals.

(Though you wouldn't know this from the sex ed I got, in an all-girls school! confused)

kim147 Sun 10-Mar-13 13:13:26

As an aside, I think it's also important to mention some people are asexual. Society has such a focus on sex and relationships that people who are asexual seem to be forgotten.

ReallyTired Sun 10-Mar-13 13:21:31

I thought that "homo" in the word "homosexual" was ancient greek for "same, equal, like, similar, common; one and the same" rather than than the latin meaning "man".

I realise the word "homosexual" is not in that list.

Prehaps its simpler to talk about same sex and different sex relationships than use the word "homosexual". Children do not need detail of what is sexually possible between two people, what is important is for them to realise that they have the right to say "no" and should respect anyone else who says "no".

Yes, it is, really. Why?

kim - true. It'd be good to lose the focus on 'everybody wants sex all the time' anyway, but maybe schools already do this.

ChairmanWow Sun 10-Mar-13 13:44:55

The part you have highlighted is terrible. Not just the refusal to discuss gay/lesbian sex but also the referral back to parents. School should be a place where children can explore ideas and get information in a safe forum away from home. Clearly there are exceptions (the sharing of information which suggests abuse for example), but what their policy means is that if a young person asks about gay sex their parents are told. The right to come out to your family at a time of your choosing is extremely important. This is the school 'outing' curious kids, potentially.

Also: Schools are legally bound not to engage in teaching which promotes, advocates or represents homosexual behaviour as the ‘norm’, and the legal aspects must be emphasised. Definitely a hangover from section 28. There is no such legal restriction on schools. Plus the fact that there has been such a lengthy debate on the meaning of 'norm' and 'normal' on here means that this is open to misinterpretation and abuse in real life.

I would definitely be taking this up because whoever has drafted these policies seems to me to have some issues. Is the school still under LEA control? You could always take it further if the head won't deal with this.

TiggyD Sun 10-Mar-13 14:12:52

There is a problem with going to the school/governors. How will it affect your relationship with them?
I worked somewhere where there was a problem with X.
I went through the proper channels telling management about X.
After no response from them I went to Ofsted about X.
It was very obvious to the managers who had gone to Ofsted and they were really pissed of with me and I felt I had to leave. Looking back on it, I would have been better off just going straight to Ofsted.

BarbarianMum Sun 10-Mar-13 19:38:01

<<I thought that "homo" in the word "homosexual" was ancient greek for "same, equal, like, similar, common; one and the same" rather than than the latin meaning "man".>>

That's true I believe. Same root as 'homogenous'

kim147 Sun 10-Mar-13 20:40:39

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