Sexuality should be discussed

18th August 2000 at 01:00
I READ with great interest Andrew Cunningham's article. He believes that school is "not the place to start the process" of enlightening attitudes regarding homosexuality. He also feels that teenagers are "not ready to discuss such an emotive issue at school".

During sex education sessions with my Year 6 class, homosexuality was raised by some children. The maturity, sensitivity and care which they displayed while discussing it showed that children as young as 11 have very little problem dealing with it.

It could be that the "smutty sniggers" which Dr Cunningham fears would happen in discussions in older groups would be avoided if children were given more of an opportunity to think about and discuss the issue at an earlier age. Perhaps he should have a little more faith in the ability of those he teachesto deal with sensitive subjects maturely.

Equally, however, a teaching friend of mine has told me how a child in her Year 4 class has suffered a tirade of abuse and name-calling because he is being brought up by two women. The teacher feels highly frustrated and unable to sit down and talk openly to the children to prevent the teasing because of Section 28.

Furthermore, the term "gay" is still used by children in a derogatory manner; homosexuals will only be regarded in a more positive and less prejudiced way by society when adults have the opportunity to discuss how wrong such an attitude is. Sensible, caring teachers should have the opportunity to do this, and thus decrease rumour, misinformation and prejudice in society.

John Cattermole

9 Pieces Terrace

Waterbeach, Cambridge

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