Plenty to celebrate as the law moves forward

3rd October 2003 at 01:00
Britain's estimated 50,000 gay, lesbian and bisexual teachers have many reasons to celebrate this year.

First, the scrapping of Section 28 - legislation introduced 14 years ago which led many teachers to believe (incorrectly) that they could not discuss homosexuality in the classroom.

This term will also see the publication of a range of materials aimed specifically at teaching pupils about the challenges of being gay or lesbian, including a booklet by the Terrence Higgins Trust.

Meanwhile, the Government's new employment directive, which comes into effect from December, should outlaw discrimination against workers on the grounds of their sexuality.

However, as the Bill stands, it will exempt religious organisations, leaving staff at faith schools at risk.

The National Union of Teachers is among a group of unions launching a high-court challenge against this loophole and also against pension rules which would favour married rather than same-sex couples.

More positive news is that the gay, lesbian and bisexual education workers organisation School's Out! may finally receive government funding after running for 29 years, twice as long as the higher-profile gay rights group Stonewall.

But School's Out! reports that homophobic bullying against pupils and teachers remains an issue of concern.

It will shortly be involved in a court case where a teacher will sue a school which she claims failed to protect her from such harassment by students.

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