The Education Secretary Michael Gove, has spoken at a conference on equality in education, to condemn the use of the word “gay” as derogatory, saying it is “outrageous and medieval”.
Mr Gove spoke at the Stonewall Education for All conference in London to say that no child should see homosexuality as a legitimate source for humour.
He went on to say that homophobic prejudices had been express amid “language in playgrounds that wasn’t effectively policed,” and that was the last thing children “wrestling with their sexuality” needed to hear.
Speaking at the event, Mr Gove noted an accusation of homophobia against previous BBC Radio 1 Breakfast Show host Chris Moyles, from 2006. Moyles was accused of homophobia after he referred to a ringtone as “gay”.
“It’s utterly outrageous and medieval to think that to use the word gay as an insult is somehow acceptable,” he said. “If it’s Chris Moyles or anyone, they should be called out.”
“If you’re growing up wrestling with your sexuality…the last thing you need to feel at school is any sense that the difficulties with which you’re wrestling or the path on which you wish to embark are in any way a legitimate subject for humour, ostracising or prejudice.”
He also noted some homophobic prejudices had been found in certain interpretations of religion, and described the words of Moyles as “thoughtless”.
Mr Gove went on to say that the fact that he is a Conservative, could help to bolster the idea that no public figures now support homophobic attitudes.
“It’s a slightly bigger deal if a Conservative says something like that than if politicians from other parties do,” he said.
“That might be more inclined to make some of those people who might have thought there were politicians who had sneaking regard for their position think ‘actually there’s no-one in public life who will defend this position.’”