The General Teaching Council for England (GTCE) has been accused of rewording a teachers’ code of conduct after faith groups complained they would have to “promote” homosexuality under the code.
According to the Guardian, a section of the code designed to tackle discrimination has been changed from “promoting equality and diversity” to “demonstrating respect for equality and diversity”.
A briefing document revealed the changes had been made after hundreds of objections from faith groups, who felt the code would require Christian teachers to “promote beliefs and lifestyles at odds with their faith”.
Terry Sanderson, chair of the National Secular Society, said: “It is a disgraceful capitulation to the worst kind of religious agitation and puts children who are gay, transgendered, or even perceived to be effeminate or tomboyish, at risk of bullying, victimisation and further isolation.
“The GTCE’s code was supposed to make vulnerable children safer and happier at school, but these religious bigots have managed to water down the code to the extent that it could become counterproductive.”
Sarah Stephens, director of policy at the GTCE, told the newspaper the wording had been changed to relate only to teachers’ actions, and not their values or beliefs.
She said: “The draft code has been amended to take account of a wide variety of responses and comments from a range of individuals and organisations, which were used as a body of evidence in the redrafting process. We believe we have developed a test in principle four which is consistent with our commitment to and strong record on equalities and which will serve all children well.”
In April, gay charities expressed their concerns over government plans to allow faith schools to teach sex education in line with their religious beliefs.
Under the recommendations of the review, all schools will be forced to teach sex education.
However, faith schools will be allowed to present lessons in line with their own “context, values and ethos”.
This will allow them to tell pupils that homosexuality, sex outside marriage or using contraception is wrong.
George Broadhead of the Pink Triangle Trust wrote to schools secretary Ed Balls, saying: “It is surely unacceptable that a large proportion of our schools should be allowed to tell pupils (in line with the teaching in their holy books) that homosexual relationships are morally wrong, with the inevitable consequence that anti-gay bullying will increase.”