Parental Involvement in Teaching: Equality Act

Part of Petition - Closure of Heywood Crown Post Office – in the House of Commons at 4:07 pm on 25th June 2019.

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Photo of Martin Docherty Martin Docherty Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Industries of the Future and Blockchain Technologies) 4:07 pm, 25th June 2019

I represent a constituency where education is completely devolved, but I wish to enter into reflective mode for Members. I grew up in the west of Scotland in a Catholic/Presbyterian Irish Catholic household. Like many other Members with similar backgrounds, I attended a state denominational school at both primary and secondary levels. I went to a school where being heterosexual was the only way you were allowed to be. No other opportunity was permitted, so the very idea that there is any question that people are going to be “forced to be gay” does not reflect the reality of those who lived in a situation where we were told we could be nothing but straight. That is an historic reality. However, reflecting on history, times do change.

Unlike many Members on the main Opposition Benches, I represent a constituency that is profoundly un-diverse. It is profoundly white. It is also profoundly Christian: half and half between the Roman Catholic faith and the national Presbyterian Church of Scotland. We know, and I am sure many Members will know, what religious intolerance can breed. It is called the Reformation. It reminds us of the role of religion, and the separation of religion and the law. Only last year in Scotland, we celebrated 100 years of the Education (Scotland) Act 1918 —the Catholic Education Act. I admit that I have only recently returned to the faith of my ancestors. I am a person of dubious faith, and anyone who says that they are fundamental in their beliefs—no matter how or who they worship—seriously needs to look at themselves and give themselves a good talking to because, without doubt, there can be no question but that you cannot fully understand the diversity of humanity around you, and especially parliamentarians who seek to understand the people they represent. I say to Mr Godsiff that I hope that they also reflect on the young gay men and women entering that school today, the ones who may vote for them or who may not vote for them, and how they understand this debate.

There is also the role of parents. I was brought up by a single parent. Did he make me gay? I do not think so. Did he make me like whisky? I think he did. He also made me question—