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Education secretary challenged to be honest about gay marriage bill

12 February 2013

London, 12 February 2013: A leading pro-family lobbying group has challenged Education Secretary Michael Gove to be honest that teachers will be in trouble if they claim that gay marriage is not real or true or valid marriage.

The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), which argues that the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Bill will undermine the pro-life institution of real (i.e. heterosexual) marriage, was responding to Mr Gove's answers this morning to the Commons committee scrutinising the bill.

Mr Gove indicated that teachers should not give "unbalanced" or "unreasonable" views or "inappropriate teaching" regarding same-sex marriage. He evaded a question on what will happen to teachers who refuse to take part in religious education (RE) or sex and relationships education (SRE) lessons unless they can follow their conscience on the issue.

When asked, by Tim Loughton MP, the specific questions:

  • If a teacher said that gay marriage is 'pretend marriage', is that 'inappropriate teaching'?
  • What would happen to a teacher who refused to take an RE lesson unless they could say that gay marriage is 'pretend marriage' e.g. Would they be allowed to take that lesson?

Mr Gove demurred, saying he couldn't imagine that any teacher would set out in that way, and he refused to answer the question directly.

Antonia Tully of SPUC's Safe at School campaign commented: "What does Mr Gove mean by an 'unbalanced view'? Mr Gove can't claim on the one hand that teachers won't be under pressure to go against their consciences, and on the other hand conceal his position on what can and cannot be stated in the classroom.

"Many teachers will find themselves caught between their headteacher and their conscience. Helen Grant, a junior minister, has warned that '... it will always be a matter for the head to determine what teachers under his control should be teaching and he/she will have a range of disciplinary measures at their disposal if they are needed including ultimately dismissal.'"

Mrs Tully continued: "What about those headteachers who insist that so-called same-sex marriage is not equated with marriage between a man and a woman? Can we imagine them being allowed to use 'a range of disciplinary measures' against teachers who want to promote same-sex marriage?"

SPUC's Safe at School campaign is offering confidential advice and support for teachers facing a crisis of conscience over teaching same-sex marriage.

Antonia Tully of SPUC's Safe at School campaign can be contacted on 020 8407 3463 or 07926 007175. SPUC's communications department can be contacted on:

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