DANGEROUS NEW SCHOOL REGULATIONS PUBLISHED
Dear Marriage supporter
The Government has published dangerous new regulations which require schools in England to ‘actively promote’ the rights enshrined in the Equality Act. As a result, schools will undoubtedly be put under pressure to promote same-sex marriage. Advice from a senior QC confirms this.
This all conflicts directly with previous good guidance issued by the Government. But earlier reassurances can’t disguise the fact that schools will now have to comply with the new ‘minimum standards’.
The plans are contained in the new Independent School Standards regulations, which change the legal framework for academies, free schools and private schools. Ofsted has been asked to enforce the same ‘minimum standards’ for all other schools.
Some aspects of the changes are innocuous, but crucially the new standards will only be met if a school:
ensures that principles are actively promoted which —
encourage respect for other people, paying particular regard to the protected [ie, promoted] characteristics set out in the Equality Act 2010(a); and
ISS regulations, September 2014
If schools were required to promote respect for people as people there would be no problem. But the additional requirement of “paying particular regard to the protected characteristics set out in the Equality Act 2010” transforms the duty in an alarming way.
One of the ‘protected characteristics’ in the Equality Act is sexual orientation. It could easily be alleged that a teacher who says “I believe same-sex marriage is not real marriage” has shown a lack of respect for people of a same-sex sexual orientation.
Schools will come under immense pressure to endorse same-sex marriage in order to comply with these regulations. Since the equality rights must be “actively promoted”, they will undoubtedly change what is taught in schools.
Under existing equality law, schools cannot discriminate against pupils but governments have carefully excluded the school curriculum from the Equality Act. The regulations break the seal around the curriculum for the first time. Now activists could launch a discrimination claim over the content of lessons.
This is why the Association of School and College Leaders has warned about the harmful implications for freedom of expression in schools.
The Government keeps talking about “British values” but seems to think this means promoting political ‘correctness’.
In its alarming consultation document, the Government lets slip some of its thinking.
PART 2 – Spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of students
Schools will be expected to focus on, and be able to show how their work with pupils is effective in embedding fundamental British values. ‘Actively promote’ also means challenging pupils, staff or parents expressing opinions contrary to fundamental British values.
It’s astonishing that the Government thinks schools should challenge the personal beliefs of parents for being contrary to political ‘correctness’. This could lead a head teacher to reprimand a parent who tells their child that marriage is for a man and a woman [and encourage children to spy on their parents as in the former Soviet Union and East Germany].
The new requirement for schools to actively promote principles which encourage respect for persons with protected characteristics (as set out in the Equality Act 2010) is intended to allow the Secretary of State to take regulatory action in various situations: for example where girls are disadvantaged on the grounds of their gender; failure to address ‘homophobia’; or where prejudice against those of other faiths is encouraged or not adequately challenged by the school.
Proposed New Independent School Standards
As we know from recent history, reasonable opposition to same-sex marriage is routinely described as ‘homophobia’. Does the new equality requirement mean a school must discipline or dismiss a teacher who voices support for traditional marriage? Will parents of prospective pupils be interrogated about their beliefs before their child is granted a place at school?
The plans also slip in another attack on parents by demanding that in future private schools must conform to ‘national norms’ rather than the expectations of parents.
Any school with a religious ethos which upholds traditional marriage will now have to defend itself against the new rules. Schools could be harassed by inspectors or even have their governors removed by the Secretary of State.
The regulations are a fundamental change of approach in our education system, which have been slipped out under the radar. It is vital that these dangerous plans are opposed and exposed.
If you have not yet contacted your MP to oppose the new minimum standards, please do so today. The email address and tips for writing can be found below:
Coalition for Marriage
Contact your MP
Tips for writing
Please write using your own words, including one or two of the following points:
Say that the plans which could force schools to actively promote same-sex marriage must be dropped.
Say the changes will threaten the free speech of parents, teachers and schools and go against all past reassurances from the Government.
Say that the new regulations actually undermine ‘British values’ with an excessive focus on promoting ‘rights’.
Say that inspectors should not be given the power to adjudicate over the beliefs of teachers or a school’s governors.
Say same-sex marriage activists could contest the school curriculum in court.
Say that forcing more political correctness on schools will be very unpopular [a real vote loser!].