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Better protection for teachers over same-sex education

July 2019

Draft guidance that threatened to silence any Christian teachers in independent schools who disagreed with same-sex marriage has been amended.

The original wording of the Department for Education’s guidance for independent schools had originally suggested any schools not recognising same-sex unions would be breaking the law.

This would have caught up any school run on Christian or other religious principles, and appeared to be a means of ‘weeding out’ teachers who believed in Christian marriage, according to Colin Hart, director of The Christian Institute.

As early as July last year, The Christian Institute campaigned against the wording. The Institute commissioned a legal opinion from veteran lawyer, Professor Christopher McCrudden, who confirmed the wording amounted to an ‘effective prohibition’ on teaching that suggested same-sex marriage shouldn’t be legal.

Mr Hart said, ‘We told the Department for Education we were prepared to challenge the guidance in court’.

A year later, the paragraph has been completely replaced. Instead of ruling out debate on same-sex marriage, the new version says the curriculum can ‘facilitate’ it. There is also specific protection for faith schools to teach marriage is only between a man and a woman.

Mr Hart said, ‘These are important gains. LGBT campaigners are annoyed, but it means there is room to debate same-sex marriage in schools.

‘It is still possible the guidance could be misused. But we believe this is less likely with the changes made’.