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Wednesday, 19 January, 2000, 20:30 GMT
Section 28: A parent's view




When Anne and Joe Patrizio learned that their son was homosexual they were horrified.

Their horror was not because their child was gay - it was because the person they cared most about had for many years agonised over his true sexuality in silence.

Here, Mrs Patrizio, a teacher in Edinburgh, says Section 28 should go.







As the parents of a gay son my husband and I have been following closely the arguments about the proposed repeal of Section 28 by the Scottish Parliament.

Sexuality is part of the whole person and to suggest that it can be changed by "promotion" is sheer nonsense.

Peer pressure is enormous and one of the reasons why there is such a high level of suicide among gay teenagers is because they cannot conform to their friends' desire for a partner of the opposite sex.

They are attracted to people of their own sex and nothing changes that.



He has now found a loving and caring partner and they live in a loving and caring relationship which has nothing "pretend" about it
Anne Patrizio
For the same reason - young people cannot be made gay.

Our son knew he was different from the time he was six-years-old and this is quite common.

He gradually learned what was different about himself but it was not until he reached university that he met anyone else who he knew to be gay.

Parents' helpline

That whole process took 17 years, during which time he coped alone.

We are so glad he coped - some young people cannot - but we are also devastated that he had to.

We have been part of Parents Enquiry helpline for nine years now and we are involved with the excellent Stonewall Youth Project.

We hear repeatedly the stresses and strains caused to families who find out that they have a child who belongs to one of the sexual minority groups.

The knowledge is isolating because there is little available information.

Considering the substantial number of gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgendered members of society there are, the general level of ignorance is nothing less than a scandal.

Education according to needs

As a teacher of children with severe and profound learning difficulties I have seen the development of excellent educational programmes dealing with all aspects of personal care, safety, self-esteem and encouragement to say no when advances are unwanted.

Educational facilities should be available to all children according to their needs.

There is no cast-iron guarantee that anyone's children will all be heterosexual - we certainly had no idea about our son until he told us at 23.

When we teach children in schools about religious and cultural differences, we assume that we are promoting religious and cultural understanding and tolerance.

How is this different from teaching them to understand the differences in sexual orientation which are part of life?

Family support

It is tragic when a child is bullied because of race or religion but at least he has his family or community to support him.

A gay child is often not able to discuss this with his family and they probably do not know how to help him, anyway.

We did not - we had to educate ourselves very fast.

Parents naturally worry about the safety of their children but statistically life is even more difficult for those who are gay - bullying and assault are major factors which will never be overcome by giving the impression that gay youngsters are not important enough to be included in educational provision made for every other child.

Our gay son has never had this kind of provision.

Loving relationship

He found his own way and because he grew up with our own values he has now found a loving and caring partner and they live in a loving and caring relationship which has nothing "pretend" about it.

It is only prejudice which makes life difficult.

Their relationship is as valid as any other and I'm proud of them both for having the courage and trust - in each other and their families and friends - to be able to make an acknowledged partnership and a loving home.

Now that the Scottish Parliament is recognising its responsibility to this minority, but equally valid, group it is giving a lead in tolerance and respect which society sorely needs.

The legislation is certainly flawed at the moment, but all power to Wendy Alexander and Donald Dewar in their attempts to redress it.





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Section 28: your questions answered.

See also:
19 Jan 00 |  Scotland
Section 28: Education Minister Sam Galbraith
19 Jan 00 |  Scotland
Section 28: Church leaders
19 Jan 00 |  Scotland
Section 28: A gay man's view

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