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Tuesday, 18 July, 2000, 19:42 GMT 20:42 UK
Sex guidelines threat defeated
sex education class
There is deep concern over what pupils are taught
The government's plans to introduce new guidelines on sex education have overcome a threat in the House of Lords.

Peers voted on Tuesday to reject an attempt by the Conservative Baroness Young to give a greater emphasis to marriage in the guidelines.

The result is likely to strengthen the government's attempts to repeal Section 28, which prevents local authorities from promoting homosexuality.

The issue is to be voted on in the House of Lords next Monday.

'Undermining marriage'

Lady Young had warned peers that if they accepted moves to introduce the guidelines, they would pave the way for repeal of Section 28.

But the peers rejected her alternative guidelines by 234 votes to 220.

The vote came during the final stages of the Learning and Skills Bill.

Lady Young and her supporters were not happy with government concessions on the sex education guidelines, which they said undermined marriage and did not state explicitly that it was more important than cohabitation or homosexual relationships.

Lady Young tabled a "pro-marriage" amendment to the guidelines, which she said met the concerns of thousands of parents up and down the country.

But it was an amendment by the Bishop of Blackburn, the Rt Rev Alan Chesters, who is head of the Church's Board of Education, which won the backing of both the Education Minister Baroness Blackstone and a majority of peers.

'Grown-up approach'

His admendment acknowledges that children should "learn the nature of marriage and its importance for family life and the bringing up of children."

The Bill had said youngsters should learn the "value of family life, marriage and stable loving relationships for the nurture of children."

Speaking outside the chamber, a spokesman for Leader of the Lords, Baroness Jay, said: "The House has now come into the 21st century.

"The vote tonight was a rejection of knee-jerk politics in favour of a grown-up consensual approach to a very important issue."

The Lords rejected scrapping Section 28 earlier this year, but the government reversed that decision in the Commons two weeks ago, during debate on the Local Government Bill.

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See also:

27 Jun 00 | UK Politics
MPs in sex education row
30 Mar 00 | Education
Blunkett fights back on sex teaching
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