Examination of Witnesses

Part of Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 12:00 pm on 12th February 2013.

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Michael Gove: First, the language that you refer to exists in the statutory guidance that was issued in 2000 when David Blunkett was Secretary of State for Education. That statutory guidance has not changed, and I see no reason to change it. There is a difference between acknowledging the importance, both historic and current, of an institution such as marriage, and acknowledging how it has changed over time and brought within its ambit different people in different ways, and then inviting  someone to endorse a moral view that they do not share. I think all teachers understand the difference between teaching facts, introducing students to knowledge and at the same time expressing an opinion.

We would not expect teachers in any area to express strong or polemical opinions. In fact, there is legislation to ensure that overall when teachers are presenting anything that is political, they must ensure that children have access to a balanced view on the matter. But any teacher, if asked direct or invited to share his view by a parent or a student, is perfectly at liberty to say, with equal marriage—as with adultery, divorce or abortion—what their own moral view might be.