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Will Julie Burchill turn teens gay?

Julie Burchill's Sugar Rush, a novel for teenagers about a lesbian affair between two schoolgirls, will have professional prudes in a lather when it hits bookshops next week.

Valerie Riches, founder-president of Family and Youth Concern, has already excelled herself with the bizarre worry that the book could damage girls "emotionally and physically". Apparently: "the vast majority of girls are not lesbians. It could alter their sexual orientation."

But, amid all the hair-pulling about sex, the Diary wonders whether another aspect of the book's charm might be lost: its rather delicious references to Brighton's education system.

Burchill, who lives in the city, sets much of her story in a Brighton school called "Ravendene comp" which bears an uncanny resemblance to the troubled East Brighton college of media arts which closes next year.

Ravendene has a uniform chosen so it "wouldn't show the blood stains" and "all the girls were on the Pill at 11; all the boys skilled thieves and fraudsters". It has just been taken over by a new head from a private school, which is funny, because a similar thing happened at East Brighton not so long ago.

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