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Education

School trust defends ‘explicitly homophobic’ education policy with chilling similarities to Section 28

Nick Duffy February 25, 2020
20 years ago today, the Tories celebrated saving homophobic Section 28

Section 28 was introduced 30 years ago under the Thatcher government

A school academy trust in England is maintaining a policy that bans “promotion” of homosexuality, 17 years on from the repeal of Section 28.

The East Midlands Academy Trust, which runs ten schools across Milton Keynes, Northampton and Oundle, has faced anger over its relationships and sex education policy, which appears to have been modelled on the long-defunct homophobic law.

The policy states: “The academy trust 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.

“The academy trust will not permit the promotion of homosexuality or bisexuality.”

Section 28 style policy is ‘explicitly homophobic’.

The reference to the “promotion” of homosexuality – and attempts to confine discussions of gay people to lessons on HIV/AIDS – was condemned by a teacher who blew the whistle on the trust’s Section 28-like practices.

The teacher told the Northampton Chronicle: “It is explicitly homophobic and it is difficult to read it any other way.

“The idea that a lifestyle can be promoted just by accepting it is straight out of Section 28. This is a deliberate act – they know the context. The lineage is very clear.”

Section 28, which banned the “promotion” of homosexuality in schools across England and Wales, was imposed by Margaret Thatcher in 1988, and repealed by Labour in 2003 – a decade before the academy trust was even formed.

British prime minister Margaret Thatcher imposed the loathed homophobic law Section 28
British prime minister Margaret Thatcher imposed the loathed homophobic law Section 28 (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

School trust claims policy banning ‘promotion’ of homosexuality is ‘old’.

The academy trust told the Northampton Chronicle that the policy published on its website “is an old policy developed under the existing DfE guidance from 2000” that was transferred from its predecessor, adding that “a new policy is due to be presented to our trust board at its next meeting in April 2020”.

The spokesperson said: “As a trust, we strongly believe in equality of opportunity for every pupil and teacher across our schools.

“The relationships and sex education delivered within our schools is fully inclusive and we operate a strict no-tolerance approach to bullying across the trust and work hard to promote our schools as safe and inclusive learning environments for all pupils, staff and volunteers.”

Despite the claims that the policy is “old”, the newspaper notes that the document – which has been publicly visible on the Trust’s website for several years – directs that it is reviewed annually and was last due for renewal for December 2019.

The teacher who blew the whistle responded: “It is either the current board who is homophobic or the previous one. I just feel like Section 28 is not dead. It is alive and well in Northamptonshire.”

It is not only in Northamptonshire where Section 28 lives on.

To this day, six US states continue to maintain ‘no promo homo’ laws banning promotion of homosexuality, which were adopted amid the same homophobic media frenzy that led to the UK law.

More: East Midlands Academy Trust, HIV/AIDS, Homophobia, Northamptonshire, Section 28, Sex and relationships education

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