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Parents complain over school assembly on gay issues

Jessica Geen June 5, 2009
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A number of parents at a Kent school have complained after gay relationships were mentioned at an assembly.

Children at Bromstone Primary listened to a song by Elton John and were told what being gay means as part of an assembly on bullying.

However, some parents at the school have said it has left their children afraid to hold hands in case they are accused of being gay.

Gemma Martin, whose children aged four and seven attended the assembly, said: “An Elton John song was played and the kids were told that Elton John was gay, and what that meant.’

She added: “It’s meant a number of girls are worried about being friends with each other.

“Little girls often cuddle each other if one of them is crying or has fallen over, and now they are afraid to do that in case the others think they are gay.

“I think kids as young as four don’t need to know about that and it should be left to their parents to tell them when they think they’re ready.”

Headmaster Nigel Utton said that many parents had congratulated him for tackling the issue in a sensitive manner, adding that only a small part of the assembly had been about bullying.

In a statement, Kent County Council education officer Lynne Miller said: “Young children are exposed at a very early age to homophobic language. Pupils may call each other ‘gay’ without really understanding what it means, but learn that it means something negative, useless, and not positive.

“If such usage is not challenged it makes it much more difficult to address homophobic bullying in secondary schools.

“Schools are well placed to explore different lifestyles as they are able to reach all children and young people and do this in a professional and evidence-based way and within a safe learning environment.”

In March, around 30 parents withdrew their children from a Leytonstone primary school in protest over lessons on gay relationships.

The school held a week of special lessons to commemorate LGBT History Month to educate children about non-heterosexual relationships.

Pupils watched an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet retitled Romeo and Julian and read stories such as one about two male penguins falling in love.

However, parents complained that the content of the lessons was not suitable for primary school pupils, with some informing the school in advance that their children would be absent.

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