Opinion Former Article

BHA identifies 44 schools that continue to have section 28-like policies

44 schools continue to have sex and relationships education (SRE) policies that either replicate section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988 or are unhelpfully vague on the issue, the British Humanist Association (BHA) can reveal. Section 28, which said that local authorities ‘shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality’, was repealed a decade ago, and the BHA believes that all the schools concerned should urgently review their policies to remove offending statements.

A month ago @sarahlicity contacted the BHA after she discovered that Colston Girls' School in Bristol’s SRE policy said that ‘The Governing Body will not permit the promotion of homosexuality.’ After raising the policy with the school, it immediately withdrew it and committed to reviewing the situation.

Since then the BHA has been working to identify schools where there are concerns about similar policies. In total the BHA has identified 19 policies where it believes there is something clearly offensive, and a further 22 that still seem to imply that section 28 might some way be in force and therefore are in need for review, and 3 that are otherwise vague.

BHA Head of Public Affairs Pavan Dhaliwal commented, ‘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.’

For further comment or information contact Pavan Dhaliwal, Head of Public Affairs, at pavan@humanism.org.uk or on 0773 843 5059.

Examples include:

The Grace Academy chain based in Coventry, Darlaston and Solihull, all of which opened after section 28’s repeal. Their policy, dated from last November, says ‘Objective discussion of homosexuality may take place in the classroom, including discussion of homophobic behaviour.  The Governing Body will not permit the promotion of homosexuality.’

Tasker Milward VC School in Pembrokeshire. Their policy dates from 2008 but says ‘Section 28 of the Local Government Action does not prevent teachers from addressing issues of homosexuality in the classroom in a neutral and unbiased manner, however, the LA shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material which actively promotes homosexuality.’

Northumberland Church of England Academy, which opened in 2009 and most recently reviewed their policy in November last year. The school is a Stonewall School Champion and staff spoke on faith schools and homophobia at this year’s Education for All conference. They say ‘The Northumberland Church of England Academy and the Governing Body will not permit the promotion of homosexuality.’

Read the BHA’s research: https://humanism.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Section-28-policies-of-concern.xlsx

The BHA has taken reasonable efforts to ensure that all the policies concerned are the most recent available.

Read more about the BHA’s campaigns work on PSHE and Sex and Relationships Education: http://humanism.org.uk/campaigns/schools-and-education/school-curriculum/pshe-and-sex-and-relationships-education/

The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. It promotes a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief.

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