Anthony Ozimic, SPUC’s communications manager, said:
“These brave priests were absolutely right to raise the issue of schools, when they say: ‘Legislation for same-sex marriage, should it be enacted, will have many legal consequences, severely restricting the ability of Catholics to teach the truth about marriage in their schools... It is meaningless to argue that Catholics and others may still teach their beliefs about marriage in schools and other arenas if they are also expected to uphold the opposite view at the same time.’
SPUC has written to the headteachers of all state-maintained secondary schools in England and Wales to warn them about this consequence. If same-sex pseudo-marriages are allowed in law, the result will be compulsory teaching of same-sex marriage, dismissal for teachers with a conscientious objection to teaching about same-sex marriage, and no opt-out for faith schools. This will constitute official persecution of Catholics, not just for upholding the teaching of their religion but for upholding basic facts about human biology, sexuality and society.”
14 January 2013
Same-sex marriage: The impact on schools
On December 11 2012 the government announced the introduction of such a bill. The impact on schools has been under-reported. We wish to draw your attention to the serious issues your school will face if this bill reaches the statute book:
- Compulsory teaching of same-sex marriage
- Dismissal for teachers with a conscientious objection to teaching about same-sex marriage
- No opt-out for faith schools
- Further promotion of homosexual activity in schools
- Parents undermined.
Marriage between one man and one woman is the basis of the family, the fundamental group unit of society. Research shows overwhelmingly that children brought up by their married, opposite-sex parents do better in terms of health, happiness and education. Marriage also offers the most protective environment for unborn children.
SPUC campaigns against explicit sex education because it sexualises children and teenagers and has failed to reduce teenage pregnancies and abortions.
In connection with our concerns in this area, we are currently writing to every state-maintained secondary school in England and Wales to highlight the position of schools regarding proposals to legalise same-sex marriage, which we believe will further sexualise children and teenagers and further encourage the spread of sexually explicit material in schools.
We urge all schools to oppose proposals to legalise same-sex marriage. It is important to recognise that the equal marriage proposals will have a real, significant and disturbing impact on your school, and therefore it is essential that schools express their concerns about these proposals.
Teachers will have to teach about same-sex marriage
There is no question that schools will be required to teach pupils about same-sex marriage. Schools are already clearly mandated to teach pupils about marriage. The Education Act 1996, Section 403, states that where sex education is delivered in state-maintained schools pupils must be taught about “the nature of marriage and its importance for family life and the bringing up of children.” If the nature of marriage is redefined to include people of the same sex, pupils will have to be taught about this.
Leading QC Aidan O'Neill included this point in a legal opinion on the consequences of same-sex marriage legislation:
“… if marriage is extended to include same sex couples then the Secretary of State’s Section 403(1A)(a) Guidance will require to ensure that children learn of the nature of marriage as being a commitment of two people, regardless of gender or sex, and of the importance of this, now gender-neutral institution, for family life and the bringing up of children. This duty of ensuring that pupils learn of the nature of marriage as redefined and its relationship to family life and the bringing up of children could not be avoided by any suggestion that such teaching might be said to be, in terms of 403(1A)(b), 'inappropriate having regard to the age and the religious and cultural background of the pupils concerned'.”
This means that even if same-sex marriage is contrary to the religious and cultural background of the pupils, they will still have to be taught about it.
Faith schools will not be exempt from teaching same-sex marriage. On 11 December 2012 when Maria Miller, Culture Secretary, introduced the government's measure on same-sex marriage in the House of Commons, she said: “Teachers will continue to be able to describe their own belief that marriage is between a man and a woman while, importantly, acknowledging that there can also be same-sex marriages.” (Hansard, 11 December, col 167)
Whatever the ethos of the school, pupils will have to be taught about both opposite-sex and same-sex marriage.
Teachers will be unable to exercise conscientious objection
It is also the case that teachers will be unable to exercise conscientious objection to teaching same-sex marriage.
Aidan O'Neill QC stated in his legal opinion that if a teacher “refused to obey the otherwise lawful instructions of her employers then this would constitute grounds for her dismissal from employment.”
Helen Grant, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Culture Media and Sport, tries to suggest that teachers with a conscientious objection will be accommodated. In a letter dated 19 October 2012, she states:
“We would expect that any teacher with concerns about their personal views being in conflict with what they are required to teach would discuss this with their head teacher and reach a mutual understanding on a way forward. There is nothing in the School Teacher's Pay and Conditions Document that sets down what a teacher should or shouldn't teach and it will always be a matter for the head to determine what teachers under his control should be teaching and he/she will have a range of disciplinary measures at their disposal if they are needed including ultimately dismissal.”
It is very hard to see how a way forward can be found for a teacher who holds that marriage is a natural institution uniting a man and a woman, and therefore that a same-sex couple’s legally recognised “marriage” is invalid or immoral.
It is clear from Helen Grant’s statement that teachers will be required to teach something about same-sex marriage. It is likely, in our view, that they will be required to say that homosexual unions are equal in some way to man-and-woman marriages. (The government’s principal reason to justify the redefinition of legal marriage is to try to make homosexual couples ‘equal’ to married couples.)
A headteacher would not be able to accommodate a teacher with a conscientious objection because the headteacher would have a legal obligation to ensure that same-sex marriage is taught to pupils. Mrs Grant makes this clear in her letter when she states: “Head teachers and governing bodies will always be expected to be fully aware of their responsibilities under employment law and equalities law when reaching any decision on matters of this nature.”
In other words, when the law redefines marriage to include same-sex marriage and schools remain legally obliged to teach pupils about marriage, a headteacher will be required to silence or sack teachers who oppose 'equal' marriage.
Compliance with equality duties
Teaching pupils about same-sex marriage and gay relationships will be underpinned by the statutory obligation all state-maintained schools are under to publish information showing that they are complying with equality duties arising from the Equality Act 2010.
The equality duties relating to “sexual orientation and gender reassignment” as set out in the guidance for schools issued by the Equality and Human Rights Commission in November 2012, are presented in active terms:
“Under the equality duty all schools must have due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination, advance equality and foster good relations between lesbian, gay and transsexual pupils and those who do not share those protected characteristics. Schools are required to publish information to demonstrate compliance with this aspect of the equality duty.” (Our emphasis).
While it is wrong that any school pupil should be subjected to bullying or discrimination, schools are clearly required to be pro-active in accommodating lesbian, gay and transsexual pupils and will be breaching the law if they don’t say how they are doing this.
These equality duties are effectively requiring schools to promote gay lifestyles and practices.
Effect of legislation in Canada
In Canada, where same-sex marriage was legalised in 2005, the Accepting Schools Act, an anti-bullying law, was passed in June 2012. This law requires all schools to run 'gay-straight alliance' clubs if the students request one.
Such clubs will be used to promote homosexuality in schools. Faith schools in Canada are not exempt.
Although the legal age of consent, in the UK, is 16, you will be aware that prosecutions are rarely brought for under-age sex when the victims are 13-15 year olds. On “equality” grounds, the homosexual abuse of children will be treated in a similar way.
Current moves to teach homosexual practices in schools
There are already moves to bring teaching on homosexuality into schools. For example, the Terrence Higgins Trust (THT), a homosexual charity, has been generously funded by the state to work with pupils age 14 and older in schools in England. In 2011 THT was granted £203,508 to run a peer-led sex education programme in schools and youth clubs. 100 disadvantaged children have been trained to give sex education training to 2,000 further teenagers to deliver sex education in schools.
While much of what can be viewed on the THT website is concerned with support and help for HIV and Aids sufferers, THT also publishes booklets such as “The Bottom Line” and “Below the Belt”. These full colour booklets use pictures of action man dolls to describe a range of gay sexual activity. For example, on page 22 of “Below the Belt” we read, “No one teaches you at school, so just how is it meant to be done? Here are your tips for successful sucking;”. This high-profile charity will have a major opening when schools come under pressure to deliver information about same -sex relationships.
Gay sexual practices are detailed on sexual “health” websites aimed at teenagers. The NHS Warwickshire website “Respect Yourself” contains a “Sextionary” which gives an A to Z of sexual activities from analingus to donkey punch to spit roast to zelphilia. The NHS endorses this website, announcing that it provides “more than just the standard guidance on sexual health.”
It is doubtful that such information can be truly classed as health advice. Rimming and fisting, for example, are extremely dangerous. Anal sex is 20 times more risky that vaginal sex, because of the fragile construction of the rectal wall and the very real possibility of tearing the membrane and subsequent leakage back into the blood stream of rectal content which contains high levels of pathogenic organisms. Directing pupils to websites promoting these activities will be seen as evidence that a school is complying with equality duties.
When it becomes mandatory for schools to give equal teaching on same-sex marriage as heterosexual marriage, schools will come under further pressure to teach pupils about gay sex.
Parents and school governors
Schools will also bear the brunt of parents objecting to the teaching of same-sex marriage and other aspects of homosexual life within the national curriculum, for example LGBT history week, from which they are unable to withdraw their children.
Aidan O'Neill QC has confirmed that parents will have “little prospects of success” in challenging schools. Two couples in Massachusetts, David and Tonia Parker and Robert and Robin Wirthlin, made a legal challenge to require schools to notify parents about homosexual teaching and to give parents the right to withdraw their children from such classes. In 2007 their case was dismissed by Chief Judge Mark L. Woolf of the US District Court, who ruled that parents who disagree with what is taught in publicly funded schools have the choice of home schooling or private education.
Once the law is changed, many school governors will be compromised over same-sex marriage. Such governors will be unable to object to teaching on same-sex marriage and the use of materials from organisations such as the Terrence Higgins Trust.