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Fulford School drops controversial policy incorporating section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988
A YORK school has dropped a controversial policy document banning the “promotion” of homosexuality amid a storm over the use of the now-overturned law.
The British Humanist Association (BHA) charity named Fulford School on a list of 45 UK schools and academy groups which still incorporated section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988 in their sex and relationship education guidelines, or which were vague about its use, despite it being repealed a decade ago over discrimination fears.
The guidelines were viewable online until this week, but the school confirmed the policy has now been removed as part of a wider review. Continued reference to section 28 by some schools or ambiguity over the issue has angered gay rights campaigners, and reports claim Ministers have asked Whitehall officials to investigate the matter.
The legislation said local authorities “shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality, or to promote the teaching of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship, in any maintained school”.
It was included in Fulford School’s sex and relationship education policy until yesterday.
Head teacher Steve Smith thanked The Press for bringing it the school’s attention.
In a statement yesterday he said: “Fulford School is renowned for its inclusivity, tolerance, and acceptance of diversity. Indeed, this was recognised in our Ofsted outstanding rating for the effectiveness with which the school promotes equality of opportunity and tackles discrimination.
“We apologise for the oversight in not updating the wording of our sex and relationships policy in line with current practice and will be rectifying this in our September policy review.”
The BHA’s list had said section 28’s inclusion in Fulford School’s policy was of “high concern”, claiming the school appeared to think it was still in force.
The school’s policy said people were not prevented from talking about lesbian and gay issues, and it was important to deal sensitively with issues of sexuality and sexual orientation.
Dr Paul Edmondson-Jones, City of York Council’s director of public health, said: “We work with and encourage all our schools to provide high-quality personal, social and health education in line with national guidance.”
The BHA has called on other schools which include section 28 in their policies to “urgently” review them to prevent “homophobic and transphobic bullying”.
A spokesman for the Department for Education (DfE) 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.”
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