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No, new Schools guidance doesn't ban Stonewall or teaching queer history

No, new Schools guidance doesn't ban Stonewall or teaching queer history

Jamie Wareham
Jamie Wareham
Jamie Wareham, he/him, gay,queer,disabled I started QueerAF to fund queer media careers. Will you join our movement?

Anti-trans parents Nigel and Sally Rowe first made headlines in 2017. This week they're back.

They've got permission for a judicial review of trans policies in English schools. This story matters because it sits in a broader set of issues in the UK.

When you connect the dots between political appointments to once-independent bodies and new guidance about 'safeguarding political impartiality' in classrooms.

The picture is building towards the same pressure anti-LGBT education law 'Section 28' created.

Who are the Rowes?

Nigel and Sally Rowe pulled their then six-year-old son from a Church of England Primary school on the Isle of Wight in 2017 - PinkNews

It's because there was a gender-diverse child in his class. Or, as the Daily Mail described it - because their lad was "so confused by a 'boy wearing a dress' he had to be taken out of class."

They've now got permission to take legal action against the Department of Education (DfE). The judicial review will examine the promotion of a Cornwall school’s transgender guidance.

But as we've seen in so many stories this week, whether about the Scottish Census or attempted amendments to the Health and Social Care Bill, the Equality Act protects transgender and gender diverse people.

So it's the broader context of this story we need to look to, to see why this high court review counts.

Safeguarding political impartiality

Last week, a Nottinghamshire school made the headlines. Its kids wrote letters expressing their disappointment about the numerous scandals the Prime Minister has been involved in. - Nottingham Post

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi responded by saying schools "should [not] encourage young people to pin their colours to a political mast." - Daily Mail

Then, remarkably quickly, published new guidance on how to navigate political debates in schools, just days later. - The National

And as a QueerAF member remarked to us, it’s hard to imagine guidance like this being released so fast if the letters had praised the PM...

Section 28 by the back door

But, in a disturbing front-page headline, The Times falsely reported the guidance told teachers to avoid the 'biased' views of Black Lives Matter and Stonewall.

It didn't. In fact - it actually reminded teachers to not give any weight to anti-gay views when teaching about the legalisation of being gay in the UK.

"When teaching about the decriminalisation of homosexuality, teachers should not present discriminatory opposing beliefs held at the time in an uncritical manner or as acceptable in society today." - GOV.UK

Stonewall is going to lodge a formal complaint against the Times.

Our lives are being framed as 'live policy debates.' It's seeing players like the BBC and Ofcom, who are duty-bound to be impartial, pull support from LGBTQIA+ organisations.

This while political appointments at once independent bodies like equality watchdog the EHRC, and now the educational body the Research Council, continue. - Times Higher Education

There is a rising understanding of the politicisation of all parts of UK society. This will leave teachers, and education leaders scared and confused. Just like they were under Section 28, a law that could have seen them prosecuted for 'promoting' homosexuality.

Schools have little official guidance to assist them in this time ahead. But this easy to read summary from the Good Law Project has some timely reminders. In a nutshell, Schools can't do anything which excludes transgender children. To do so, would contravene the Equality Act.


New government guidance on 'political impartiality' in schools hasn't called on schools to avoid material from Stonewall and Black Lives Matter - despite false reports that suggested this.

In a polarised online debate and politicisation of once-independent bodies, the groundwork is being laid for the same impact Section 28 had: to limit teachers who want to help their LGBTQIA+ students.

This article was just one part of our weekly newsletter that summarises, understands and explains the news of the week:

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Jamie Wareham, he/him, gay queer disabled - A note from me:

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