The Rt. Hon. David Blunkett, MP,
Secretary of State for Education and Employment.
25th May, 1999.
Dear Mr. Blunkett,
Following the sickening London bombings in April which targeted minority groups, OutRage! has been encouraged by some of the reported pronouncements by Tony Blair and Jack Straw on the need to promote equality, inclusivity and integration of ethnic groups, lesbians, and gay men, proactively; by your own statement ten days ago on proposals to "help young people develop a full understanding of their duties and responsibilities as citizens in a civilised and mature democracy"; and by the more recent explicit call by Sports Minister Tony Banks for gay football players to "come out", to help combat homophobia in sport.
Although the Government has repeatedly affirmed its commitment to repealing Section 28 of the 1988 Local Government Act, it is recognised throughout the teaching profession and elsewhere that the continued existence of this deplorable legislation on the Statute Books promotes and maintains an atmosphere of fear and self-censorship, so that lesbian and gay pupils are all too effectively denied any form of support; whilst their heterosexual peers receive no encouragement to accept individuals whose sexuality is different from their own. -- The need for this was underlined during the House of Lords debate last month on the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill, where it was revealed that the NSPCC, Save the Children, Barnado's, NCH Action for Children, the BMA, Royal College of Nursing, Family Welfare Association, and the National Union of Teachers all supported equality and integration.
You will be aware of the tragic suicide last autumn of Darren Steele, who, after enduring years of homophobic bullying, committed suicide at the age of 15. You may also be aware of the 1998 GALOP survey of lesbian, gay and bisexual youth, "Telling it like it is", which found:
|54%||had suffered repeated verbal abuse|
|35%||physical abuse in school|
|33%||verbal abuse at school|
|9%||repeated hate communications|
|7%||sexual abuse at school|
|4%||hate communications & property damage/theft|
On behalf of OutRage!, I am writing to urge you publicly:
Your leadership on these matters would do much to help support gay pupils and teachers, and would be greatly appreciated.
Section 28: Schools attacked for buying gay sex education packs The Scotsman, 14-November-1999
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