Schools urged to 'review policy' on teaching homosexuality to pupils
A North Devon primary school has been named among dozens of schools accused of having sex education policies which ban the promotion of homosexuality.
A British Humanist Society (BHA) investigation placed Yeo Valley Community School in Barnstaple as one of some 45 establishments nationwide whose policies either replicated the notorious Section 28 law or were "unhelpfully vague" on what would be allowed to be taught in class.
The amendment to the Local Government Act 1988 was passed by the Conservative Government in 1988 but overturned by Labour in 2003.
The Curriculum Policy on the school's website states: "The Local Government Act (1988) section 28, while forbidding local authorities to promote homosexuality, does not prohibit discussion on issues related to sexuality in schools. Yeo Valley School supports schools in promoting health awareness amongst pupils.
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"Some parents or carers may have concerns rooted in culture or religion about their children's participation in aspects of the curriculum or school life.
"In many cases a flexible solution can be negotiated to enable pupils to have full access to the curriculum."
Section 28 stated that councils should not "intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality" in its schools or other areas of their work.
The BHA claimed the school "seem to think that Section 28 is still in force".
But a Devon County Council spokesman said: "These policies are a matter for individual governing bodies but, on careful reading, we do not agree with the BHA's interpretation."
The association called on the schools to "urgently review" their policies and to remove offending statements.
Pavan Dhaliwal, BHA head of public affairs 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.
"All of the schools identified must urgently review their sex and relationships education policies to ensure that all pupils, whatever their sexual orientation or gender identity, are treated with equal respect and understanding."
The Department for Education condemned their published policy statements as "unacceptable" and said it would investigate each school.
The legislation introduced by Margaret Thatcher's government faced fierce protests led by gay rights and equality campaigners before it was removed a decade ago.
In 2009 Prime Minister David Cameron gave a public apology for the Tories' actions in passing Section 28, saying: "We got it wrong".
The school's policy was due for review in March 2013, but no update was published.