Four-year-olds will get gay fairytales at school
UK Daily Mail | March 12, 2007
Schools are teaching children as young as four about same-sex relationships to comply with new gay rights laws, it emerged yesterday.
They are introducing youngsters to homosexuality using a series of story books in preparation for controversial regulations coming into force next month
Fourteen primary schools are already taking part in a £600,000 Government-funded study aimed at familiarising children with gay and lesbian relationships.
The research team behind the project intends to post the findings on national websites to help all schools use the books in their literacy lessons.
It also revealed it is leading workshops for local councils across the country which are asking how to implement new laws banning discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation.
The academics working on the study say showing children that homosexuality is part of everyday life helps reduce homophobic bullying in the playground.
They claim schools need to ensure they are serving the needs of gay pupils and parents to comply with the Equality Act.
However the scheme sparked alarm among Christian groups who fear the legislation could leave schools open to lawsuits if they refuse to use books with gay characters.
One story being used in the research project, headed by academics at Sunderland University, is a fairytale about a prince who turns down three princesses before falling in love with one of their brothers. They marry in a book titled 'King & King'.
In another book, 'Spacegirl Pukes', the main character has two mothers, mummy Loula and mummy Neenee. She is about to set off on a space mission when she falls ill, requiring her mothers to nurse her back to health.
Another called 'And Tango Makes Three' features two male penguins, Roy and Silo, who fall in love at a New York zoo.
The latter has sparked fierce debate in the U.S. where some schools already use it.
The use of the books in England prompted claims that repealing Section 28 - the law banning the promotion of homosexuality in schools - has increased the use of inappropriate teaching materials.
There are also claims that new gay rights laws, coming into force on April 6, will allow schools to be sued if they do not use homosexual texts.
The Government insists that schools will still be able to decide what they teach.
A spokesman said existing guidance already made clear schools must "meet the needs of all young people whatever their family circumstances or developing sexuality", and in a way that is "age appropriate".
However Dr Elizabeth Atkinson, reader in social and educational inquiry at Sunderland University, said: "The purpose of the project is to support schools in meeting their requirements under the Equality Act, which will require all public institutions to meet the needs of gay and lesbian users.
"There's very little out there at the moment to enable them to meet the needs of all pupils."
The No Outsiders project, which has received funding from the Economic and Social Research Council, is run by Sunderland jointly with Exeter University and London's Institute of Education.
It has been launched in 14 schools across the North East, the South West, London and the Midlands.
Dr Atkinson added: "We are already finding that books like these are changing attitudes around homosexuality. Pupils are more willing to understand issues of discrimination."
However Simon Calvert, spokesman for the Christian Institute, said: "The predictions of those who said the repeal of Section 28 would result in the active promotion of homosexuality in schools are coming true."
His insitute is also warning that the new equality laws would lead to schools being "compelled" to provide books with gay themes and risk litigation if they do not.
Meanwhile the Christian Voice group has vowed to track down the books and organise a protest to ban them.
Director Stephen Green said: "The arrogance of people like Elizabeth Atkinson, using children as guinea pigs is outrageous and thoroughly wicked.
"I am astonished at this project and we are trying to find out where these schools are to empower parents to put pressure on them to remove the books."