Tuesday 25 October 2011

Anti-choice groups and homophobia

Government guidance states that ‘young people, whatever their developing sexuality, need to feel that sex and relationships education (SRE) is relevant to them and sensitive to their needs’. Indeed, any school SRE policy worth its salt would communicate the importance of inclusive education which doesn’t discriminate against same-sex relationships. So why are groups which hold homophobic views allowed to speak to young people as part of their sex and relationships education?

We weren’t particularly shocked when the director of anti-abortion organisation SPUC (The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children) posted a missive railing against ‘gay marriage’ on his blog. We are however, still bemused by the fact that schools across the country allow this group to speak to young people.

In this recent blog SPUC director John Smeaton used text book homophobic arguments in his opposition to ‘gay marriage’ stating that:

‘The fundamental argument against gay marriage is that homosexuality is disordered, as it is radically at variance with the truth and meaning of human sexuality... it is impossible for any homosexual relationship to be a marriage because genuine personal, sexual and spiritual union between persons of the same-sex is impossible.’

Helpfully, Smeaton clues us in as to why exactly he’s arguing against gay marriage on a blog dedicated to ‘pro-life issues’:

‘Why is the Catholic Church's teaching on homosexuality (and sexual ethics generally) important specifically for the pro-life movement? The late Pope John Paul II, the great pro-life champion, taught ... that it is an illusion to think that we can build a true culture of human life if we do not offer adolescents and young adults an authentic education in sexuality, and in love, and the whole of life according to their true meaning and in their close interconnection.’

Smeaton’s blogs are not simply personal musings but directly linked to SPUC’s work and identity – the title is ‘John Smeaton, SPUC Director’ and the header states: ‘I write this blog in my role as SPUC's chief executive, commenting on pro-life news, reflecting on pro-life issues and promoting SPUC's work’.

SPUC is currently leading a national campaign called ‘Safe at School’ bemoaning the current state of sex education in schools. It offers schools resources and send out speakers to give presentations on topics such as abortion and euthanasia.

Another organisation, Care (Christian Action Research and Education), one of the founding members of the SRE Council, which runs the sex education programme Evaluate in schools, also raises a red flag concerning its position on sexuality. Care was a vocal supporter of Section 28 and has also responded negatively to David Cameron’s speech in support of ‘gay marriage’. In 2007 CARE co-sponsored a conference entitled: ‘The Possibility of Change: Understanding the Causes and Healing of Homosexuality’.

A Stonewall survey of young LGBT people found that over a third didn’t feel safe or accepted at school. We are concerned that some organisations, which hold views contravening good practice in SRE, are being invited into schools and could share opinions which stigmatise, or may trigger negative feelings and bullying. Is a young person who is questioning or coming to terms with their sexuality, or who has friends or family members  who are in gay relationships, ‘safe at school’ when an organisation with homophobic views is given a platform?

If you want to help EFC campaign against misinformation in schools please text EDFC22 followed by the amount you wish to donate (e.g. EDFC22 £10) to 70070 or visit our Just Giving page to make a regular donation.

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