The Department for Education (DfE) has confirmed to PinkNews.co.uk that it’s investigating claims that scores of schools have polices in place targeting the “promotion” of homosexuality.

In a statement to PinkNews.co.uk, a DfE spokesman said: “What these schools have done by singling out homosexuality is unacceptable. All schools can draw up their own sex education policy but they must ensure they do not discriminate unfairly on grounds of sexual orientation. Our sex and relationship education guidance makes it clear that schools should not promote any sexual orientation. The DfE will be looking into these schools.”

Earlier, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary Stephen Twigg called on Education Secretary Michael Gove to respond to the allegations made by LGBT campaign groups; they fear several schools have lurched back to the era of Section 28.

“Michael Gove must intervene to ensure that all schools obey their duties under the Equality Act,” Mr Twigg said.

“Labour got rid of Section 28 in 2003 to ensure that schools taught about homosexuality in an open and honest way. Homophobic bullying is still too common in schools, we must ensure that we redouble our efforts to tackle such prejudice.”

Introduced in 1988, Section 28 of the Local Government Act banned the “promotion” of homosexuality by local authorities and said that schools “could not promote of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship”.

Section 28 was repealed in England and Wales in 2003 and in Scotland in 2000.

Over the weekend it was revealed a Change.org petition had been set up by LGBT campaigners against three schools: Castle View Enterprise Academy in Sunderland (CVEA), Swindon Academy and Stockport Academy.

On its website CVEA had stated in its Sexual and Relationships Education (SRE) policy that the school’s “Governing Body will not permit the promotion of homosexuality.”

Academy Principal Janet Bridges blamed the wording on an “administrative error” – but the British Humanist Association (BHA) said the problem was widespread and expressed concerns regarding 45 schools across the country.

King James’ state school, in Knaresborough, North Yorkshire stipulates in its SRE policy of the need to “ensure that homosexuality is not promoted as a pretended family relationship whilst not encouraging homophobia.”

On Monday evening the BHA announced it had identified at least 45 schools that either replicate language banning the “promotion” of homosexuality in the classroom or are “unhelpfully vague on the issue.”

BHA Head of Public Affairs Pavan Dhaliwal said: “It is simply unacceptable that over a decade after the repeal of the pernicious Section 28 that these schools continue to enforce similar policies, while others have statements which are overly vague on this matter.”