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Thursday, 20 January, 2000, 10:50 GMT
Minister's new Section 28 promise

Section 28 graphic The debate is creating controversy in Scotland

Scottish Education Minister Sam Galbraith has repeated his pledge that parents will continue to be consulted over the repeal of Section 28.

In an article written for News Online Scotland, Mr Galbraith sets out the reasons - personal and on behalf of the Scottish Executive - for the law being abolished.

Section 28 prevents local authorities from promoting homosexuality in state-maintained schools.

Mr Galbraith says: "There have been fears that removing Section 28 will allow our schools to be overrun with pornography.

Sam Galbraith Sam Galbraith: Wants to reassure other parents
"As a parent myself, I can reassure everyone in Scotland that this will not happen.

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

"We have always said we are very will ing 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."

'New climate'

Mr Galbraith, who has three children, points out there is currently no bar on schools discussing homosexuality in personal and social education classes or in health education programmes.

He believes Section 28's repeal will "create a new climate of openness and tolerance that will ultimately benefit all our children".

Class Discussions on homosexuality "are not banned"
"In the new Scotland, we must understand a little more and condemn a little less," he adds.

In a similar article for News Online Scotland, Anne Patrizio, a teacher in Edinburgh whose son is gay, argues for the abolition of Section 28.

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

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

Churches' view

But a group of inter-donominational church leaders have united to argue for the status quo.

They write: "Properly understood, it [Section 28] in no way inhibits the giving of appropriate information about homosexuality to young people nor the active protection of all children who might be bullied."

Church Many church leaders want the status quo
Iain Parkinson, a religious and moral education teacher in Scotland, contacted News Online to state his opinion.

He said: "I am puzzled by the outraged but ignorant folk who have claimed that we teachers are gagged by this daft law.

"So far from being an important guide to our delivery of the curriculum is Clause 28, that most of my colleagues, I suspect, were actually ignorant of its terms.

"I would suggest that anyone in the profession who claims to have been gagged in this way is guilty of ridiculous and insincere posturing.

"A ridiculous clause defending us against a non-existent threat - worth repealing? Don't waste my time!"

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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: Education Minister Sam Galbraith
19 Jan 00 |  Scotland
Section 28: A gay man's view
19 Jan 00 |  Scotland
PR firm hit by Section 28 'hoax'
20 Jan 00 |  Scotland
When gay became a four-letter word

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