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Friday, 10 March, 2000, 11:02 GMT
Teachers told to promote marriage

The government will publish new guidelines for teachers
Teachers are to be told to stress the importance of marriage under proposals aimed at heading off opposition to the repeal of the Section 28 ban on the promotion of homosexuality.

The BBC has learned that the guidelines for England and Wales - to be published next week - will see education laws amended to force schools to take heed of them.

The move comes after a similar compromise was drawn up by ministers in the Scottish Parliament.

Education Secretary David Blunkett has been consulting with church leaders and others opposed to the repeal of Section 28 in England and Wales.

The new guidelines will stress the importance of marriage and family life in bringing up children, and also say that children should be warned against rushing into premature sexual activity.

They will also include advice designed to reduce teenage pregnancies.

Strong opposition

The Learning and Skills Bill going through Parliament will be amended to require schools to follow the guidelines.

The proposals come after the government suffered a defeat in the House of Lords last month over the repeal of Section 28 as part of the Local Government Bill, which covers England and Wales.

Ministers hope the plans will win over their opponents in the Lords, clearing the way for the removal of Section 28 this summer.

Opposition to the repeal of Section 28, which was introduced by Margaret Thatcher's Conservative government more than a decade ago, has been particularly strong in Scotland.

The Scottish Executive's compromise on the move has begun its committee stages, with a new clause stating that councils must stress "the value of stable family life in a child's development".

If accepted, the Bill could pass into law by the summer.
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See also:

08 Mar 00 | Health
Pregnancy campaign targets boys
07 Feb 00 | UK Politics
Government suffers Section 28 defeat
07 Feb 00 | Education
Sex guidelines in Section 28 row
07 Feb 00 | Education
Anti-gay bullies 'given free rein'
10 Feb 00 | UK Politics
MPs back gay sex at 16
24 Feb 00 | Scotland
Clause to replace Section 28
28 Feb 00 | Education
Bishops face Section 28 pressure
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