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Friday, 18 February, 2000, 15:10 GMT
Bishop lobbies Blunkett on sex education

church wedding graphic Church wants schools to "promote" marriage

Education Secretary David Blunkett is holding talks with a delegation of church leaders over proposed sex education guidance to schools as the government continues moves to scrap legislation banning the promotion of homosexuality.

The meeting comes after the Peers threw out government proposals to scrap the Section 28 legislation last week.

Chairman of the the Church of England schools board the Bishop of Blackburn, Alan Chesters, said he hoped that the meeting would lead to schools being obliged by law to teach pupils that the traditional two-parent marriage is the only proper foundation for family life.

"There's a negotiation going on with government," he told BBC News Online.

"I would hope that we can persuade them that the vast majority of British people and certainly all the churches and other faith communities, are looking for something in statute that will enshrine the place of marriage.

"I have meetings scheduled but until we've faced them in the eyes or seen the colour of their money it's difficult to say, but at the moment they're very sympathetic to what we're talking about."

Section 28

Mr Blunkett has already sought to reassure teachers who fear that the new guidelines will stigmatise the one in five children whose parents are not married.

During last week's Lords debate, the Bishop of Blackburn proposed an amendment to the 1996 Education Act which would require "that marriage should be promoted as the fundamental building block of society and of family life and as the proper context for the nurture of children".

For the Conservatives, Baroness Blatch welcomed the bishop's proposals to place a duty on schools to "promote" marriage.

Mr Blunkett is aiming to strike a compromise that would persuade peers to back the repeal when the Bill returns from the Commons later in the year.

In Scotland, where parliamentary plans to scrap the legislation sparked the national row, the Scottish Executive is preparing to appeal directly to parents for their support.

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See also:
11 Jan 00 |  Education
Church plans to run more schools
07 Feb 00 |  Education
Sex guidelines in Section 28 row
07 Feb 00 |  UK Politics
Government suffers Section 28 defeat

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