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BBC Scotland's education correspondent Ken Macdonald
"It's less than a week since two senior association members helped launch the Keep the Clause campaign"
 real 28k

SSBA treasurer Alan Smith
"No decision has been made yet by the executive"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 25 January, 2000, 12:01 GMT
Section 28 backers deny U-turn

The debate has been a heated one

The Scottish School Board Association has insisted that it has not dropped its campaign against the repeal of the law which bans the promotion of homosexuality by local authorities.

The association's executive is due to meet on Friday to discuss the progress of its campaign to retain Section 28.

Indications are that the executive, which forms the SSBA policy, is likely to support a move to accept promises from the Scottish Executive of new guidelines for teachers.

The timescale was so contracted that we were unable to carry out the consultation as we would normally do
Alan Smith
Treasurer Alan Smith told Newsnight Scotland on Monday said the executive's guarantee to consult with parents was a "significant step forward".

Speaking on Tuesday morning's Good Morning Scotland programme, Mr Smith said: "Currently we are in a position with the clause in place that it's protective legislation.

"The government seem determined to remove protective legislation and are not replacing it with any statutory legislation.

'Statutory legislation' demand

"I think we would be taking the line that we would be looking for statutory provision. If the repeal was to take place but there was still statutory legislation in place that would continue to protect children, that would satisfy the SSBA."

Keep the Clause launch The Keep the Clause launch proved controversial
Sources have indicated discontent within the SSBA in the way that the association has been enmeshed with the Keep the Clause campaign organised by the public relations firm Media House and funded by Stagecoach chairman Brian Souter.

Senior figures in the association have admitted privately to BBC Scotland that it has been damaged by the present debate.

Mr Smith acknowledged that the association had not consulted its members in the way that it would preferred, prior to stating its position publicly on Section 28.

Consultation timetable

"Consultation had taken place at grass roots. Initially the SSBA did not receive the consultation pack, we had to write to Wendy Alexander [Local Government Minister] on the 13th of November.

Record front The campaigners deny a U-turn
"We received the pack on the 30th of November and then we had our executive board meeting on the fourth of December.

"All the members had been taking grass roots soundings prior to the meeting on the fourth of December and subsequent to that meeting - and the feeling is that we are going to oppose the repeal of this legislation in its present form," said Mr Smith.

"We would normally consult and we would send out questionnaires to our various board members but the timescale was so contracted that we were unable to carry out the consultation as we would normally do, to the full extent that we would normally do."

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Gay law reform debate

See also:
24 Jan 00 |  Scotland
Councils brand Section 28 'unjust'
23 Jan 00 |  Scotland
Winning says sorry to gays
22 Jan 00 |  Scotland
Dewar refuses showdown with Souter
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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