Kent acts to keep Section 28 alive in its schools

1st August 2003 at 01:00
TORY-run Kent County Council has adopted its own version of Section 28 in anticipation of a repeal of the law banning local authorities from promoting homosexuality.

It has brought in a new policy prohibiting the use of council taxpayers' money for promoting homosexuality in its 600 schools.

Sir Sandy Bruce Lockhart, the council leader, said: "We will not spend money on materials which encourage homosexuality. We want children to have an understanding and tolerance of different lifestyles and people but have seen materials produced by health authorities, gay rights groups and councils which are inappropriate.

"We must get the subject in proportion to other issues, like relationships, social and family values."

Section 28 was introduced by Margaret Thatcher's government 15 years ago.

The House of Lords last month failed to block a Bill repealing the clause but may challenge it again in September.

Gay rights campaigners argue that more investment is needed to raise awareness of homosexuality and prevent homophobic bullying.

Sue Sanders, chair of Schools Out, which aims to tackle homophobia, said:

"Section 28 has meant that schools have not tackled homophobic bullying. If councils want people to understand homosexuality they will have to spend money training staff, changing the curriculum, and providing materials."

In April the Christian Institute condemned several councils for recommending inappropriate and "explicit" materials. East Sussex, Brighton and Hove, Wirral and Hampshire, the councils cited, denied the allegations and said they were following government guidelines published in 2000.

Gill Frances, director of children's development at the National Children's Bureau charity, said: "There is very good government guidance on sex education but ultimately it is schools and governing bodies that decide their policies. Councils do not have a role to play in this except for offering support."

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