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Protect free speech in schools

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Deadline Tuesday 5 June 2018.

The government is consulting on draft guidance for Independent Schools which threatens to prevent teachers from saying that they disagree with same-sex ‘marriage’.

The draft guidance says (in paragraph 20):

The standard will not be met if, for example, the PSHE curriculum:

c. suggests that same-sex marriages or civil partnerships should not be recognised as being lawful unions under civil law;

A plain reading of this wording would restrict the free speech of teachers in schools so that they can not suggest that same-sex ‘marriage’ should not be legal. It is possible that the government intends another meaning, but if so the government needs to tighten the wording of this clause.

How to respond

You can respond online to the consultation.

  • Question 7 is the one to respond to for commenting on paragraph 20.

  • State that your comments relate to paragraph 20.

  • You do not need to respond to other questions, but feel free to do so.

  • Concerns have also been raised about the way in which the teaching of creationism is limited in paragraph 13 of the draft guidance. Question 7 is also the one to respond to on this. Christian Concern’s response to the consultation also raises this point.

  • You can choose not to answer questions about you.

  • Please respond in your own words making some of the suggested points below.

  • The consultation documents are available here.

Suggested Points to make

Pick two or three of the following points and make them in your own words:

  • The proposed guidance restricts free speech and debate which are essential for a free and democratic society.

  • The status of marriage in law is a political issue which schools and teachers should be allowed to debate and discuss in an informed manner. The guidance says that even the ‘suggestion’ that same-sex ‘marriage’ should not be legalised should be penalised by Ofsted.

  • Government ministers promised that teachers with traditional views on marriage would be able to express them and be respected.

  • Before the legalisation of same-sex ‘marriage’, teachers and schools were allowed to argue for same-sex ‘marriage’[PH2] . Why should teachers now not be allowed to argue against same-sex ‘marriage’?

  • The guidance implies that disagreement with same-sex ‘marriage’ is similar to racism (Paragraph 20 (a)) which is deeply offensive to Christians and others who believe in traditional marriage.

  • The belief that marriage is a lifelong union between one man and one woman that should be recognised as such in law is a longstanding belief worthy of respect in a free and democratic society.

  • This guidance will encourage Ofsted inspectors to ask pupils intrusive questions about their personal beliefs as they have already done in some Jewish and Christian schools.

  • Banning criticism of same-sex ‘marriage’ amounts to state indoctrination rather than education. It will appear to schoolchildren that same-sex ‘marriage’ is a belief above criticism.

  • This guidance amounts to state enforcement of political correctness.

  • The guidance is worded in a way that it assumes that the teaching of traditional marriage is effectively outlawed in society.

  • The government itself is considering abolishing civil partnerships, but the guidance would prevent schools from even suggesting this possibility.

Respond online to the consultation now.