Michael Gove’s full letter on homophobic teaching materials in schools

22 February 2012 by

The Trade Union Congress have sent me the full letter (download here) which Education Secretary Michael Gove sent to its leader Brendan Barber in relation to a complaint about seemingly homophobic booklets distributed to Roman Catholic schools in Lancashire. The letter which Mr Barber sent to Mr Gove is here.

I complained in this post that the excerpt of the response published by The Observer appeared to misunderstand the provisions of the Equality Act which apply to schools. I also said that the quote in the article could have been out of context. In short, it was. Here is the full paragraph, which presents a much fairer representation of the law:

The reference to a school’s “beliefs” is a little odd, but the above paragraph is a much better representation of the law than the first five lines taken alone.

The Observer has been naughty in not publishing the full paragraph, as in only quoting the first five lines, it has both misrepresented Mr Gove and also published a misleading explanation of the law. Teachers reading the article (and I expect many read The Observer) could have come away thinking that the Equality Act 2010 allows them to teach what they like as the curriculum is not caught by the Act.

If the newspaper did not have access to the full letter, it should have expressly said so in the article, but if it did, it is hard to see what reason it had for not publishing the final five lines of the paragraph quoted above.

I have also been a bit naughty myself in breaching one of the fundamental principles of this blog, which is to comment on primary sources, not quotes, and for that I apologise.

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3 comments


  1. John D says:

    Adam: the reason ‘belief’ is used is because it acts in place of the fuller term ‘religion and belief’ as conveyed by HR law. In using ‘belief’ Gove is avoiding using the word ‘religion’ as this would probably be considered far more controversial in this specific context, i.e. some religions believe it is proper and appropriate to execute people for homosexual behaviour but I imagine Gove does not want draw attention to this aspect of religious ‘belief’.

  2. Zak Golombeck says:

    Naughty step for Wagner?

    1. Adam Wagner says:

      I considered it, but I did include a proviso in the original post. I’m on probation for not using or linking to an original source before commenting on it.

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