LGBT teaching - Portsmouth's council warns it will 'not tolerate' any protests as curriculum is expanded

Cllr Lee Hunt holding up a copy of Capital Gay during full council. Picture: Ben Fishwick
Cllr Lee Hunt holding up a copy of Capital Gay during full council. Picture: Ben Fishwick
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Teachers in Portsmouth have been promised a 'breadth of support' while teaching children about LGBT+ relationships – and the city council has warned it 'will not tolerate' any backlash.

As part of national curriculum changes for 2020 all primary school children will be taught about 'inclusive' families, such as same-sex parents. Sex education for secondary school students will also be LGBT+ inclusive.

During a contentious debate at full council last week Portsmouth City Council's cabinet member for education, Councillor Suzy Horton, asked for backing to create an LGBT+ champion for city schools as well as condemn any protests that may take place as a result.

She said: 'It's not a fad, it's not a project, it's not a burden. It's not about developing a curriculum about how to be gay or how to be bi. Maybe people are imagining lessons with a Powerpoint with "how to be this or that".

'While the council doesn't determine the curriculum we can provide a breadth of support.'

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She was backed by Cllr Lee Hunt. He said: 'I have been discriminated against in my life, massively. My life earlier on was smashed by some of the institutions of this country.’

All councillors at the meeting except two - Cllr Matthew Atkins and Cllr Benedict Swann - voted in favour of supporting LGBT+ education in schools.

And Cllr Terry Norton voted in favour but warned his peers about 'indoctrinating young people'.

Helen Merel, inclusion officer at Lyndhurst Junior School in North End, explained how the curriculum would affect pupils. 'When we are talking about families we will have to reflect our society as children see it,' she said.

'Our families come in lots of forms. We have children who are looked after, we have children from large families, small families, mixed-race families, mixed-religion families. Some live with their grandparents and some live with two mums or two dads.

'We respect the fact that some people have religious beliefs that mean they don't approve but at the same time we have to respect that's what the law says. We've got to promote British values.'

The new curriculum will be mandatory from September 2020.