Gays: The Great Debate - Section 28: Hands off Our Schools; Head Attacks Gay Propaganda the Moral Well-Being of Our Children Has Become the Debating Ground of Peers, Politicians and Teachers over Controversial Plans to Change the Law Governing the Promotion of Homosexuality in Schools. Mail Education Correspondent TONY COLLINS Examines the Issues and Speaks to People at the Cutting Edge of the Controversy
Collins, Tony, Birmingham Evening Mail (England)
PHILIP Williams is in no doubt what will happen if legislation preventing the promotion of homosexuality in classrooms around the country is scrapped.
He fears that schools will immediately become flooded with material actively promoting gay sex - putting added pressure on already impressionable young minds.
Mr Williams, head teacher of a primary school in Redditch, Worcestershire, has 21 years of teaching experience to qualify him for his views, with children aged four to 18 being under his charge at some point.
He says, somewhat disappointedly, "As a head teacher I feel I am in a minority, but this is something we have to flag up and say is wrong.
"I am very concerned at the effect on children who are at an age when they are so vulnerable and looking for role models, any role model, to follow."
The battleground has been drawn around Section 28 of the Local Government Act, introduced in 1988 by Margaret Thatcher's Conservative Government.
The legislation bans councils from promoting homosexuality, and also the promotion of teaching in schools of homosexuality as a family relationship.
But Mr Williams, head of Astwood Bank First School, says gay pressure groups are attempting to turn the debate into one of bullying.
He says: "I have taught all ages and in my experience homophobic bullying is not a real issue.
"I don't believe bullying of children who are gay is the issue because bullying is to do with low self-esteem and people wanting to exert power over others.
"They are only dealing with one aspect of bullying and legislation isn't going to stop that.
"There has to be an approach in schools. In fact, there is already a requirement that all schools have procedures in place to prevent bullying."
Mr Williams, aged 42, has listened to the counter-arguments, but adds: "The claim that repealing section 28 will prevent homophobic bullying is a skilful attempt by gay pressure groups to align their cause to the emotive issue of bullying in schools."
The concerns of the pro-legislation supporters was strengthened over reports that Bristol-based Avon Health Authority had produced a video allegedly encouraging children as young as 14 to experiment with gay sex.
The film, said to be available in 180 schools throughout England, is also understood to ask pupils aged 14 to 16 to discuss whether a fictional 15-year-old boy called Michael should have unprotected gay sex with his boyfriend.
The pack - called Beyond a Phase: A Practical Guide to Challenging Homophobia in Schools - is being cited by campaigners as a prime example of why Labour should abandon plans to scrap section 28. …