Legislation and DfEE Guidance on Tackling Homophobia in schools

This briefing has been Discussed with the Department for Education and Employment and checked by them for factual accuracy.

Permission is given for it to be reproduced for non-commercial circulation.

Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988

Section 28 repealed 18th September 2003. 

The Learning and Skills Act 2000
“Secretary of State must issue guidance designed to secure that when sex education is given to registered pupils at maintained schools
a. they learn the nature of marriage and its importance for family life and the bringing up of children, and
b. they are protected from teaching and materials which are *inappropriate having regard to the age and the religious and cultural background of the pupils concerned.
(1B) In discharging their functions under subsection (1) governing bodies and head teachers must have regard to the Secretary of State’s guidance.”

‘Having regard to’ does not mean ‘adhere to’. It simply means that those issues must be considered when issues are dealt with, as good teachers have always been doing.
* See the information contained in the guidance.

The DfEE Sex and Relationship Guidance, July 2000, states 
“There are strong and mutually supportive relationships outside marriage. Therefore pupils should learn the significance of marriage and stable relationships as key building blocks of community ands society. Care needs to be taken to ensure that there is no stigmatisation of children based on their home circumstances.” (Introduction, Paragraph 4)

Silence about lesbian and gay families constitutes stigmatisation.

“Pupils need also to be given accurate information and helped to develop skills to enable them to understand difference and respect themselves and others and for the purpose also of preventing and removing prejudice.” (Introduction, Paragraph 5)

Silence about lesbian and gay people fuels prejudice.

“It is up to schools to make sure that the needs of all pupils are met in their programmes. Young people whatever their developing sexuality, need to feel that sex and relationships education is relevant to them and sensitive to their needs. The secretary of State is clear that teachers should be able to deal honestly and sensitively with sexual orientation, answer appropriate questions and offer support. There should be no direct promotion of sexual orientation. ” (Section 1, Paragraph 30)

To make sure that no particular sexuality is promoted, schools must make sure that all are treated equally. Therefore silence on and the exclusion of lesbian, gay and bisexual issues from the curriculum would be *inappropriate.

The Sex and Relationship Guidance also deals with the issue of Homophobic Bullying

“Schools need to be able to deal with homophobic bullying. Guidance issued by the department, (Social Inclusion: Pupil Support Circular 10/99), dealt with the unacceptability of and emotional distress and harm caused by bullying in whatever form — be it racial, as a result of a pupils appearance, related to sexual orientation or for any other reason.”(Section 1, Paragraph 32)

The Local Government Act 2000 Section 104 Amended Section 28 by adding:

“nothing…shall be taken to prevent the head teacher or governing body of a maintained school, or a teacher employed by a maintained school, from taking steps to prevent any form of bullying”.

Teachers must now challenge silence on homophobic bullying.

It is therefore now incumbent on teachers to

1. Challenge the stigmatisation of lesbian and gay families in lessons about families, marriage and stable relationships
2. Give positive information on lesbians gays and bisexuals to enable pupils to challenge derogatory stereotypes and prejudice.
3. Include lesbian, gay and bisexuality in lessons on sex education
4. Challenge all forms of homophobic bullying

There is information, and a teachers pack called Tackling Homophobia Creating Safer Spaces that give teachers information, resources, lesson plans and strategies to help address homophobia on the School’s Out! Website on HTTP//:www.schools-out.org.uk Or contact CHRYSALIS.

Advice on addressing homophobic bullying can also be given by JAAHB
(Joint Action Against Homophobic Bullying) Tel. 01392 20 10 18

Web Link