Gove under attack over anti-gay book in schools

Campaigners angry after UK government's Education Secretary, Michael Gove, says equality laws do not cover schools

Gove under attack over anti-gay book in schools
20 February 2012

Michael Gove, the UK government's education secretary, has come under fire from campaigners after claiming equality laws do not cover school curriculums.

Trade unionists the TUC raised concerns to the Conservative politician about a homophobic booklet which was distributed in Roman Catholic schools in Lancashire, England, in 2010.

The pamphlet, called 'Pure Manhood: How to become the man God wants you to be', claims that ‘the homosexual act is disordered’.

But the MP responded by saying the Equality Act 2010, which prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, does not extend to the content of school curriculums, The Guardian reported.

He added: 'Any materials used in sex and relationship education lessons, therefore, will not be subject to the discrimination provisions of the act.'

Gay equality campaigners have reacted angrily to Gove's comments.

Schools Out, which has campaigned for LGBT equality in schools since 1974, have written to the Education Secretary demanding an explanation.

Tony Fenwick, the group's co-chair, said: 'This quote is extraordinary. The Equality Act pushes us to the forefront in Europe and the world on equalities legislation, but Gove's statement seems to say that schools can escape all that and discriminate against LGBT people through the curriculum.

'I am willing to assume he has been misquoted or misunderstood. Otherwise lesbians, gays, bisexual and trans people are being taken back to the dark days of Thatcherism and Section 28.

'For the sake of our communities and our children, we need clarification.'

Gay rights group Stonewall echoed Fenwick's views, calling for more clarity on the issue of what material is deemed appropriate for young people.

Stonewall chief executive, Ben Summerskill, said: 'The water could no longer be muddied by people pushing age-inappropriate sex material on the one hand and fundamentalist anti-gay religious materials on the other.'

A spokesman for the UK government's Department for Education insisted: 'Any school engaging in the promotion of homophobic material would be acting unlawfully.'

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