Academies: Scrap your Section 28 Rule!
Under the freedom granted to Academies and the lack of a national curriculum on Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) several schools have retained or reintroduced their own version of Section 28. We have found multiple schools still using SRE policies which ban the promotion of homosexuality. Stirling work by the British Humanists Association has found that fourty four schools still have such outdated homophobic policy in place. The full details are available here:
Each have in place (or until very recently) Section 28 style policy. Section 28 was an incredibly harmful rule introduced under Thatcher's government that banned the "promotion of homosexuality". In the SRE policy the rules state "The Governing Body will not permit the promotion of homosexuality."
Section 28 had devastating effects as it left teachers effectively gagged. It meant they were unable to tackle homophobic bullying, unable to provide sexual education for gay, lesbian and bisexual teenagers or for some teachers it meant they could not be open about their own sexuality.
It's been suggested that this documentation could be a result of Place Group, a service provider that updates school's policies, failing to update school policies, as detailed here: https://mtpt.wordpress.com/2013/08/17/section-28-reborn-or-why-you-should-revise-standard-documents/.
If so it's a troubling oversight that has left schools with homophobic policy and a lack of support for LGBT students. It's clear that pressure must be put in place on these academies to update their policy as well as Department of Education to bring in mandatory Sex and Relationship Education that is supportive of LGBT students.
Siobhan MacMahon, spokesperson for the LGBTIQ Green Party Group, condemned the policy. “This is a deeply worrying development. With the scrapping of Section 28 tackling homophobic bullying in schools has finally started to progress. Hearing that schools still have their own Section 28 rule is a damaging step backwards. It’s clear that there should be a national mandatory curriculum ensuring that every school gives students the information they need about sex and sexuality. The freedom granted to Academies and Free Schools to introduce such homophobic policy leaves LGBT students out in the cold. School must be a safe space for LGBT students and teachers, the reintroduction of Section 28s does not allow for that.”
Since our petition a number of schools have withdrawn the document with outdated Section 28 style policy. Excellent work!
Section 28 had devastating effects as it left teachers effectively gagged. It meant they were unable to tackle homophobic bullying, unable to provide sexual education for LGBT teenagers and for some teachers it meant they could not be open about their own sexuality. Such policy threatens to create a toxic stifled environment where students and teachers are not free to be themselves, with no avenue to turn to support or advice. We strongly advise you to repeal this incredibly homophobic policy.
We also call for the Department of Education to introduce a mandatory curriculum for Sex and Relationships Education. We also call on Academies and Free Schools not to be able to opt out of such a curriculum. Schools must cater for LGBT students, and make school a safe and accommodating place. This cannot be done if schools still have Section 28 style policies and no teaching on being LGBT.