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Wednesday, 19 January, 2000, 19:58 GMT
Section 28: Education Minister Sam Galbraith

As the debate rages over the repeal of Section 28, News Online Scotland asked figures representing different viewpoints to give their arguments for the law staying or being abolished.

Below is the case against Section 28 put by Education Minister Sam Galbraith along with links on the right of the page to other contributions.

The Scottish School Board Association and Stagecoach chairman Brian Souter, who are opposed to the repeal, are both represented by the public relations firm Media House.

We asked the firm to arrange for articles from both. None has been received.

Sam Galbraith explains the Scottish Executive's views and pledges no change will take place until parents and teachers are fully consulted.

Section 28 is a piece of legislation that has served only to legitimise intolerance.

Repealing it will remove prejudice and help teachers protect our young people from bullying based on their sexuality.

It will help teachers to deal sensitively with the issues.

As a parent myself, I can reassure everyone in Scotland that fears about schools being overrun with pornography will not happen.
Sam Galbraith, Education Minister
There have been fears that removing Section 28 will allow our schools to be overrun with pornography.

As a parent myself, I can reassure everyone in Scotland that this will not happen.

Systems are in place to prevent this happening and have worked well in the past.

We are committed to reviewing the guidelines for schools before repeal takes effect to make sure they continue to work well.

No bar on discussion

There is currently no bar on schools discussing homosexuality in personal and social education (PSE) classes or in health education programmes.

Teachers are already expected to deal sensitively with these issues but Section 28 can make it difficult for them to do so.

It has limited their scope in teaching on sex education and bullying and fuelled intolerance and discrimination against homosexuals.

As a father-of-three myself, I know parents are concerned about what their children are being taught.

Schools should always take into account the views of parents and communities when dealing with sensitive subjects such as sex education.

Many schools hold meetings with parents to discuss the issues before these courses are introduced.

In preparing material for sex education, it goes without saying that schools also have to consider the need to reflect the age and maturity of pupils.

'Willing to consult'

We have always said we are very willing to consult on our review of current guidelines, which shows our determination to give confidence to parents, teachers and pupils alike.

As part of that process, parents' representatives will be consulted as they usually are, along with many other groups.

The Scottish Executive encourages education authorities to address health education, including sex education, as part of a wider programme of personal and social education.

This is designed to make sure that information is not given in isolation - but as part of a programme that considers issues relating to sensible lifestyle choices and healthy living.

Fostering responsibility

It helps foster a sense of responsibility for individual behaviour and its implications for others.

Education authorities and schools check carefully in advance the course materials used for sex education.

Scottish teachers also need to feel confident that they can tackle anti-gay bullying in the same way that they tackle other types.

For far too long Section 28 has constrained schools and teachers from developing robust strategies against the misery of bullying.

Repealing it will create a new climate of openness and tolerance that will ultimately benefit all our children.

Both Westminster and the Scottish Parliament now have the chance to bring this intolerance to an end.

Reinforced prejudice

We should never forget the reasons behind the repeal.

No prosecutions were brought under Section 28 and it merely served to reinforce and create prejudice, while hindering the job teachers have in protecting our young people.

In the new Scotland we must understand a little more and condemn a little less.

Our society must be characterised by tolerance and we therefore do not need to keep a law rooted in prejudice.

The Scottish Executive is confident that we can both reassure parents and remove a blatant piece of discriminatory legislation, whose impact extends well beyond education.

This is not about promotion of homosexuality.

It is about producing a tolerant society for the new century, where no one is discriminated against because of race, gender, religion or sexual orientation.

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Section 28: your questions answered.

See also:
19 Jan 00 |  Scotland
Section 28: Church leaders
19 Jan 00 |  Scotland
Section 28: A parent's view
19 Jan 00 |  Scotland
Section 28: A gay man's view
19 Jan 00 |  Scotland
PR firm hit by Section 28 'hoax'

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