Parental Involvement in Teaching: Equality Act

Part of Petition - Closure of Heywood Crown Post Office – in the House of Commons at 4:27 pm on 25th June 2019.

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Photo of Lloyd Russell-Moyle Lloyd Russell-Moyle Labour/Co-operative, Brighton, Kemptown 4:27 pm, 25th June 2019

Quite! We all know how the game of Chinese whispers works, and the danger is that if children learn things second hand, the message will have been garbled or lost by the time it reaches the third child down. If we are going to teach our children about these ideas of respect and if we are going to keep them safe, we need to do that in a whole way.

I was taught by my parents that of course it did not matter who you fell in love with. I can remember as a child hearing nursery rhymes about falling in love with different groups of people. That is the kind of family I grew up in, and I feel very proud to have had parents who introduced those concepts. My sister is a happily married heterosexual, and she had those songs sung to her as well when she was young. They did not make me gay, but they made me feel comfortable with who I was. Let us be honest, however. Parents are loving, but there is no qualification to be a parent. There are some good parents and some bad parents. My mother is a linguist and an English teacher, but she knows absolutely nothing about physics or maths—she dropped out of science at GCSE—and if I had been taught science by my mother, I would not have been able to go on to do my physics and chemistry A-levels, as I did. We understand that parents are the primary lovers of their children, but they are not always the best people to give them a holistic, rounded education, because they have not experienced all the different elements and aspects of the world.

People in positions of responsibility, whether they are teachers or Members of Parliament, have a responsibility in these debates to show leadership. It was the Labour Government between 1997 and 2010 who showed leadership. If we had followed the mob and listened to what the opinion polls were saying at the time, it is unlikely that we would have made much progress at all on LGBT rights. We would not have made progress on abolishing section 28, for example, because Brian Souter was busy ploughing money in to garner public opinion in one way. We as politicians have to recognise that public opinion can be whipped up by dangerous forces, and we have a moral responsibility to sometimes make a judgment, not on whether there has been consultation—that was a totally vacuous argument that had no content to it—but on the content of the objections, in order to analyse and review them. That is something that Mr Godsiff has failed to do in this debate even once. Not once did he articulate the problems with the content of the curriculum.