“Promotion of Homosexuality” vs. “Promotion of Sexual Orientation” – Section 28 actually never went away

People keep on saying “reintroduction of Section 28” about the policies within this post however what they don’t realise is that it actually sort of never went away.

Teachers and schools (including academies) STILL have to pay due regard to the SRE (2000) guidance. This was announced in March 2013 that we would be getting no new SRE guidance. 

THIS DOCUMENT STATES THREE TIMES THAT “There should be no promotion of sexual orientation this is inappropriate teaching” 

So don’t necessarily blame the individual schools for developing homophobic policies when the document we have to build our school policies from is possibly homophobic, inappropriate and completely out of date and out of touch. (and possibly contravenes the Equalities Act?).  Further investigation has revealed some of the policies now being in process of being updated (in response to backlash?) however further googling found another 5 schools and counting with problematic policies and although it seems it is partly as a result of sharing some very out of date academies documentation, some policies will have been adopted unquestioningly because of the SRE Guidance and maybe Section 28 of the model funding agreement for Academies and free schools?

Schools that have policies that state about the non-promotion of homosexuality should be challenged- but where do we stand on schools that state “promotion of sexual orientation”? After all they are only following the SRE 2000 Guidance.

To me promotion of  “sexual orientation” could be interpreted as not promoting one sexual orientation above the other. So schools might have meant they were considering the issue of heterosexual hegemony right?

Dear Schools (Academies?) having “SECTION 28” in your school Sex Ed Policy is NOT acceptable.

Just been made aware of this petition and with the help of twitter pals we have identified at least NINE academies (identified so far…) have been using versions of the same policy* (some are still using it, some have been using it until recently when made aware of the issues with it and are now in the process of updating it). Another blogger has uncovered where these policies probably originated from.

Versions of this SRE policy document state under the section on “Homosexuality”**

11 Homosexuality
11.1 The Governing Body recognises the need to address the issue of homosexuality and the need to provide education related to the spread of HIV/AIDS which will, of necessity, include reference to homosexuals and bisexuals. Objective discussion of homosexuality may take place in the classroom.
11.2 The Governing Body will not permit the promotion of homosexuality.

(emphasis mine)

or words to the effect of “Teachers should not promote homosexuality”

I don’t have time to unpick all the reasons why this policy statement is SO WRONG (as I am trying to actually write my Masters dissertation into challenging homophobia in schools!) but very quickly:

a) Homosexuality is outdated and somewhat offensive terminology- talking about sexual identity is much more inclusive including Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual (LGB) as well as Gender Identity including discussion of gender non-conformism and trans*

b) SECTION 28 HAS BEEN REPEALED. Teachers now have a legal duty to challenge homophobia and promote equality. Yes the current SRE guidance may contravene the Equality Act and yes even the English and Welsh Governments are confused when interpreting the legislation. BUT even mentioning “PROMOTION OF HOMOSEXUALITY” the exact terminology of Section 28 is just so wrong. Schools can and should talk about sexual and gender identity and address homophobia. Putting it in school policy like this effectively gags teachers who could make such a difference to students who identify as LGB and/or T. remember teachers are legally bound to follow school policies- contravening them can lead to disciplinary or even dismissal.

c)HIV/AIDS IS NOT A “GAY DISEASE”. Making an explicit link like that in the policy is offensive.

I am very disappointed that schools think this is an acceptable document to use as their school policy, but I am hopeful that it is a case of schools getting an “off the shelf, generic policy” put in place quickly and not thinking it through or discussing it properly and that the schools will be open to developing a more appropriate school policy.

*Further checking reveals some of these documents maybe in process of being updated and I hope their new policy are vastly improved I would be happy to help any school with developing an appropriate school policy- just ask! With hindsight I have deleted the direct link to the school policy involved and am not naming individual schools on this blog as I don’t think scapegoating and “making an example of” individual schools is the answer as it has emerged this problem is too widespread and actually all schools need to check and update their policies.