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

Well, I will leave that one. He also made me question how we defend the rights of those who are minorities—he always did. I want to reflect on my personal experience. The only reason I wanted to speak today was that I, as a Scottish constituency MP, can add something to this debate—we have heard from hon. Members from Wales who are concerned about the targeting of certain emails, and I heard from my hon. Friend Alison Thewliss that she has received emails about this debate and how it reflects on the Scottish education system. In Scotland, we have the Scottish Government’s LGBTI Inclusive Education Working Group. It should be noted that the Roman Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Scotland is clear that it could never again see a situation in which a pupil leaves his school in Scotland having had prejudice-based bullying, and it fully signed up to the Scottish Government’s Inclusive Education Working Group.

If anything is to be gained from this debate, we need to reflect on the lived experience of young gay men and women entering your schools. Their parents may not like the fact that they will grow up to be gay. That is a reality. We cannot detract from it, whether they live hiding in a closet or openly as young Christian gay people or young Muslim gay people—or Hindu, Jew or secular. We cannot enable them to go back into the closet knowing that we believe, as elected representatives, that they should not have a place in the education system. We are not enforcing gayness on folk. That is a ridiculous proposition. We live in a majority heterosexual normative world. That is the reality. What we are saying to these young men and women is that we do not want them to be bullied, be prejudiced, to self-harm, to take their lives, to go into lives filled with alcohol and drugs, or to kill themselves. That is what we do not want and, if anything, we should offer them a listening ear today and not a judging one.