By John Smeaton, SPUC
Maria Miller, the government's equalities minister, blogged on Friday on the government's assurances regarding conscientious objection to same-sex marriage. Here is what she wrote about schools:
"There has been some debate about how this Bill will affect teachers and teaching about marriage in schools. Let me make it absolutely clear, that teachers will continue to have the clear right to express in a professional way their own beliefs, or that of their faith, such as that marriage should be between a man and a woman. No teacher will be required to promote or endorse views which go against their beliefs. As with any area of the curriculum, teachers will of course be required to teach the factual position that under the law, marriage can be between opposite-sex couples and same-sex couples. But, of course they will not be required to promote same-sex marriage, and neither will we be bringing in new powers to sack teachers who disagree with same-sex marriage. There are already many subjects which need to be taught carefully, particularly in faith schools – divorce, for example. The guidance governing these issues is the same guidance that will govern how same sex-marriage is handled. And equally, parents will continue to have the right to withdraw their children from sex education lessons that they do not consider appropriate."
SPUC is continuing to respond to the detail of the government's assurances, such as in our letter to headteachers and in forthcoming documents. What is also needed, however, is a historical perspective on the reliability of assurances given to Parliament. Here are but three examples:
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