C4M – 10 Reasons – Number 4

Here’s Number Four.

Myth 4
No impact on schools

The current law requires schools to teach children about the importance of marriage. If marriage is given a new definition, it will be endorsed in schools. According to expert legal advice, any teacher who fails to endorse same-sex marriage in the classroom could be dismissed. Parents will have no legal right to withdraw their children from lessons which endorse same-sex marriage across the curriculum. Already supporters of gay marriage are recommending books for use in schools which undermine traditional marriage, and call on schools to get children to act out gay weddings. The effect on schools will be polarising and divisive.

Tough words. Is it true that state employees (i.e. teachers) would have to support gay marriage? What’s wrong with validating people’s relationships? Are there already issues with some liberal teachers using the word “marriage” when describing civil partnerships?

Over to you.

8 Comments on “C4M – 10 Reasons – Number 4

  1. Two issues I think here. First, apart from any legal issues, the running together of traditional marriage and homosexual relationships will spill over into schools: the change is intended to introduce an alteration in social attitudes and schools are part of society. Secondly, there is the specific worry about legal duties imposed by the change. (Eg: Aidan O’Neill claims, ‘If gay marriage becomes law then “its importance for family life and the bringing up of children” must be taught as part of sex education.’) Since Aidan O’Neill is a QC and I’m not, I’m going to take his view as at least persuasive. So I think C4M are right here: there will be an impact on schools.

  2. My concern with the idea that teachers will actually be dismissed for failing to endorse same-sex marriage is that I find little evidence that it’s happened in respect of abortion.

    While I defer to Aiden O’Neill’s expertise, I worry that this particular line of argument is scaremongering. For instance, in respect of abortion, the Sex and Relationship Education guidance states:

    ‘When abortion is covered within a programme, the challenge is to offer young people the opportunity to explore the dilemmas, enable them to know and understand about abortion, and develop the communication skills to discuss it with parents and health professionals.’ (Point 2.15 https://www.education.gov.uk/publications/eOrderingDownload/DfES-0116-2000%20SRE.pdf)

    If the proposals were enacted, I would expect similar guidance on same-sex marriage. Even if supporters of gay marriage recommend book and gay wedding role play, what makes us think that they will hold sway over government policy any more than abortion activists do now.

    For me, this is the weakest argument so far.

    • We were taught about abortion in RE as part of religious and moral education. The teachers were Christian and so opposed to abortion, but they didn’t use the ‘m’ word, or tell us what to think. They passed round the gruesome pictures and told us we could just pass them along without looking at them if we didn’t want to. Could teachers do this now without being hauled up in front of a disciplinary hearing after parents complain about their ‘insensitivity’? I’m not so sure. It seems to me that things are changing and attitudes are hardening. Abortion was safe in the past, but is it now?

      Secondly, is gay marriage the same as abortion? Many people believe that it should be a woman’s right to choose. Nobody believes that there are some women born with a propensity towards abortion for whom childbirth would be such an unnatural and traumatic experience that it would be oppressive to put them through it! Whatever your position, abortion is still an issue of moral and individual choice. Since the equalities act homosexuality is a discrimination issue. To suggest that homosexual relationships are not of equal value or moral worth with heterosexual relationships in the public sphere is illegal, and you can lose your job for it, as we have seen in case after case in a court of law. The only case the Christian Institute has won is the anti-abortion case.

      I’m no lawyer, but my verdict? This is not scare-mongering. Once gay marriage is law, it will be as inappropriate for a teacher to initiate a discussion on the legitimacy of gay marriage as it would be for a teacher to initiate a discussion on the legitimacy of inter-racial marriages.

  3. I feel terrible about Tom leaving. I think it was partly my fault. The fact is, it’s not Tom, or gay couples, or gay people, or even Ryan that’s got me wound up. It’s the politics of this whole debate. People seem to want to discuss anything – slavery, racism, religious freedom, bullying in schools, the meaning of the term ‘biggot’ – absolutely anything except what marriage is and what we want it to be. I’m not hearing a clear answer from either side. There seem to be so many elephants in the room.

  4. Surely teachers aren’t there to give an opinion or value judgment either way? There may be teachers who are opposed to all marriage but it wouldn’t be expected that they would push that view? It isn’t up to teachers to make that sort of moral judgment. The Church is welcome to continue to do this, in line with their beliefs, but not schools

    • The Personal Social Health and Economic Education Association (formally the PSHE Subject Association) was set up in 2006 with government funding. It now promotes far from impartial resources like ‘Out in School’ from the Terrence Higgins Trust http://www.tht.org.uk/sexual-health/Resources/Publications/General/Out-In-School to advance the LGBT value judgement through teachers who are sympathetic to their beliefs.

      Example for RE: ‘ask students to undertake case studies of countries where homosexuality is illegal or LGB people are regularly persecuted; for example, India, Zimbabwe, Iran or Russia.’ and,
      ‘encourage discussion around what the Bible says about religious tolerance, slavery and other issues and compare these with its teaching on homosexuality.’

      Please don’t suggest that churches should not provide similar school resources to advance their own value judgements, like: ‘ask students to undertake case studies of religious leaders who were persecuted with Section 5, Public Order Act arrests for saying homosexuality is wrong in public’,, or, ‘encourage discussion around what the Bible says about Jesus’ religious opponents whose traditions contradicted the scripture and compare this with the teaching of some churches the contradict the scripture on homosexuality.’

      • It’s the promotion thing that’s the problem, Mike. I’ve always been fine with the idea of freedom of choice, but this issue has turned into an issue like racism – ie. where only one view is appropriate. This is putting Christians in a very difficult position – as we’re seeing with fostering cases. If Christians were simply being asked to keep their beliefs to themselves, there wouldn’t be such a problem, but resources like the one’s sheppie describes above would be difficult for a Christian teacher to teach. We’ve seen examples of this with the case in America where some kids walked out because Savage describes parts of the bible as sh*t. It’s fine for him to believe that, but personally I think he should have stuck to informing the kids about LBGT experiences and let them make up their own mind about their religious beliefs.

  5. Just thought that I’d leave a quote from Dr. Lushington, who explained why non-consummation would make a marriage open to annulment. Please remember that annulment voids the marriage. There is no need to wait for 2 years before it is granted. Its effect is retrospective from the date of the wedding. There is no recourse to spousal support. In the absence of offspring, assets are returned to each party to the invalid marriage, rather than divided equally.

    In Butler vs. Butler, Lushington said: ‘Without entering into any minute discussion as to all the purposes for which marriage was intended, it is obvious that the capacity for sexual intercourse is in all cases, save when age may seem to preclude it , to be deemed a most important essential; essential because the procreation of children is one of the chief objects of marriage, essential, because the lawful indulgence of the passions is the best protection against illicit intercourse;’

    Procreative capacity is not relevant. The incapacity to have sexual intercourse renders a marriage open to a petition for annulment becuase it denies a fundamental object of marriage: openness to the potential for procreation.

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