Don't be blinded by prejudice

25th February 2000 at 00:00
EVERYONE who teaches young people has had to cope with the fall-out from the near-hysterical debate on the repeal of Section 28, including those of us in colleges and universities.

It is recognised throughout teaching that Section 28 promotes and maintains an atmosphere of fear and self-censorship. It's not only a case of denying lesbian and gay pupils support against homophobic bullying. The Section also creates barriers for teachers seeking to educate students for life.

Teachers have a legitimate right to contribute not only to their students' knowledge but also to their confidence, sense of value and self-esteem regardless of their race, gender or sexuality.

To their credit, the vast majority of young people have long accepted and respected differences in sexuality. More than two-thirds of 15 to 24 year-olds want to dump the clause.

In the pos-Stephen Lawrence era, public institutions have at last embraced the idea that racism is unacceptable, yet the guardians of those same institutions see no contradiction in the view that implies that homophobia is OK.

Many of us working in education had hoped that the new Labour government and a modernised House of Lords would correct the injustice of Section 28.

We hope that the decision-makers will not be swayed by the prejudices of the last century, but seize the opportunity to create a fully-inclusive society.

Paul Mackney

General Secretary

Gerard Kelly

National executive member for

Lesbians and Gay Men

NATFHE

Write to: FE Focus Letters, The TES, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1W 1BX.

Letters sent via e-mail (furthereduc@tes.co.uk) should include a full postal address. Letters may be cut


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