Humanists UK urges Government to stand firm on LGBT teaching

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Humanists UK has urged the UK Government not to back down on its plans to implement new guidance that schools explicitly teach respect for LGBT people, after a father has said that teaching his children about LGBT issues is a breach of his human rights.

A member of the Charedi Jewish community, Shraga Stern, has sent a legal letter to the Department for Education over its new Independent School Standards for England, which includes teaching children to respect others and that differences between people, including those identifying as LGBT, are ‘equally valid’.

In the letter, Stern’s lawyers said: "We note in particular the phrase that different ways of life may be 'equally valid'. This statement goes to the heart of the ethical worldview taught by a faith school. Belief in God and in a religious way of life distinguishes between action that is morally good and action that is sin."

The lawyers added: "The Draft Advice goes beyond requiring toleration and in effect challenges the very essence of religious belief."

Humanists UK, which campaigns for an inclusive curriculum which promotes respect and understanding between different groups in society, is opposed to any watering down of the Government’s guidelines because of religious beliefs.

Humanists UK says encouraging respect for LGBT people is a requirement of the existing Independent School Standards and preventing discrimination is a requirement of the Equality Act 2010, and faith schools are not exempt from these provisions.

Humanists UK Education Campaigns Manager Ruth Wareham said: "It’s crucial that inclusion and respect for LGBT people is fostered in all schools as part of all children’s education. It is in the best interests of children, and indeed for British society as a whole, to learn that there are LGBT people and that they deserve to be afforded the same level of tolerance and respect as everyone else.

"The Government would be entering very dangerous territory if it was to allow extreme religious voices, which oppose the teaching of equality and tolerance, to dictate the direction of these reforms. It also sends a wider, more harmful message to LGBT people that they are not seen as equally important."

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