front-page story this week saying that the Government is ‘powerless’ to stop teachers getting sacked if they refuse to endorse same-sex marriage.
It quotes a senior source at the Department for Education admitting that the UK is not ‘in control’ and that European judges will have the final say.
We knew that teachers were under threat, but now we know the Government secretly thinks so too.
The Coalition for Marriage (C4M) recently published a legal opinion from leading QC Aidan O’Neill (summary here) confirming that one of the major impacts of David Cameron’s new law allowing same sex marriage would be in the classroom.
It says that the law will require that children learn about gay marriage in sex education lessons.
This is because Section 403(1A)(a) of the Education Act 1996 imposes a duty on the Secretary of State ‘to issue guidance’ ensuring that pupils ‘learn the nature of marriage and its importance for family life and the bringing up of children’.
If gay marriage becomes law then ‘its importance for family life and the bringing up of children’ must be taught as part of sex education.
In addition, if gay marriage is taught within schools outside sex education, Mr O’Neill says that parents would have ‘little prospects of success’ in claiming a legal right to withdraw children from such lessons.
The Coalition for Marriage has now published a new report giving details of exactly the sort of material our children will be reading.
Gay Rights Activist group Stonewall has already produced a recommended reading list for primary and secondary schools aimed at normalising lesbian and gay families.
Countering stigma for vulnerable children is one thing, but attempting to engineer and reshape children’s values and worldviews is quite another altogether.
A teacher training guide, also produced by Stonewall, suggests that primary school children could perform some of the storybooks as school plays.
An accompanying teacher training DVD produced by Stonewall, with support from the taxpayer-funded Training and Development Agency for Schools, suggests that pupils must become ‘resilient’ to the values of their parents and grandparents.
This is in reference to some parents and grandparents who may have objections to issues such as gay marriage.
In 2009, Muslim and Christian parents in Waltham Forest, East London, were threatened with prosecution for withdrawing their children from primary schools lessons that used the gay marriage story book, ‘King & King’. The council said the withdrawals were ‘unauthorised’ absences and that action would be taken against the parents.
The legal and political pressure to use these books in classrooms will be all the greater if marriage gets redefined. Culture wars about the meaning of marriage shouldn’t be dragged into our schools.
But some extreme local authority somewhere will try to do just that, and woe betide any teacher or parent who objects.
What we have learnt from two of the recent four European court cases involving Christians who lost their jobs for manifesting their faith is that under the Equality Act the right of Christian conscience is trumped by gay rights.
The Bill to redefine marriage was published on 25 January and MPs will vote on it for the first time on Tuesday 5 February.
I hope that these concerns will come up in debate and that MPs who back gay marriage will be around to hear them rather than just mindlessly filing through the ‘yes’ lobby in obedience to ‘unofficial whips’ when it is time to vote.
A national day of prayer has been called for on Sunday 3 February.