Other Section 28 gleanings
Simon Jennings was coordinating a campaign directed at the next meeting of the Further Education subcommittee of Essex County Council on 24th. April, 1989. He was liaising with the National Union of Students and people on the ground.
Also, "Governors at Cambridge College of Arts and Technology have refused to reconsider their decision not to officially recognise the students' union's appointment of a part-time lesbian and gay officer."
"The NUS is holding a national protest lobby of the new council, regardless of the local elections, at 10.30am on 16 May."
Section 28: Local Government Act 1988
232 The Association took full part, in accordance with Annual Conference 1988 resolution 25, in opposition to the clause during the passage of the Bill, working closely with the Local Government Information Unit in the coordination of the campaign. The NEC continued to consider the best means of responding to the legislation including advising members in respect of teaching, research and library work. It was agreed that elements emphasising equal opportunities aspects will be incorporated into claims made to employers in this area of work.
"On 24 April concillors on the authority's FE subcommittee met for its regular monthly meeting. Those present heard how the council had begun to doubt the legal opinion of its own Council Solicitor and had instead sought the advice of independent counsel. They were told that they would almost certainly lose any court case taken out against them."
"Through a statement to the meeting from the County Education Officer councellors heard that: 'In the light of the opinion which has now been received further advice has now been given to all FE establishments, to the effect that it is not considered that in ordinary circumstances the letting of a room to a homosexual organisation would constitute an action on the part of the County Council capable of being construed as intentionally promoting homosexuality . . . In other words no additional or special conditions should be attached to the standard conditions attached to lettings in respect of any homosexual organisation."
"The contoversial decision by Conservative councillors has forced Glynebourne Touring Opera to cancel performances planned for a school's festival in October."
Donald Mitchell, trustee of the Britten-Pears Foundation said that the ruling was influenced by Section 28 of the Local Government Act.
However, John Barnes, who as chair of Kent school's sub-committee made the decision to exclude Britten's opera, denied that it was a result of the new legislation. "It was felt that the question of homosexuality was not appropriate for all the school-children who would attend."
"The opera world has been stunned by the ban which critics have described as 'unbelievable', 'pernicious', and 'scandalous'. This is believed to be the first time any concern whatsoever has been shown about the Britten opera since it was first produced in 1973. Donald Mitchell of the Britten-Pears Foundation said the decision had been influenced by Section 28. 'It is appalling that councils should ban a work of this stature by a composer who did so much for children. They have covered themselves in shame', he said."
"A spokeswoman for Kent County Council told us that John Barnes had stood down from the Council at this months local elections but the ban would still go ahead. She said that she thought it 'unlikely that Section 28 had played any part in the decision making process of the Council. Children as young as ten would have seen this opera and it was felt that its contents were just not suitable'."
Not mentioned elsewhere in this web page, "In January, a young man on work experience at Shrewsbury College of Arts and Technology was asked by senior staff, citing Section 28, to move elsewhere after he suggested that the students' union should start a gay society.".
The article goes on, "But the call to arms against the 'odius' Section 28 began to lose its force as early as last summer when it became clear that the Section would have no power in schools, it would not be used to sack teachers, it would not sanction the burning of books and it would not lead inexorably to the gas ovens.".
"Section 28 was originally dreamed up as a way of stopping school children being taught positive images of homosexuality. There is cause for concern that campaigns to teach positive images for lesbians and gay men in schools - the original target of Section 28 - appear to have fallen by the wayside since the Section came into force, even though the Department of the Environment itself said the Section did not apply to schools.".
"Changes to the education system are being much more effective in denying young gay people the right to proceed and be helped through adolescence with a valued, respected and cherished homosexual orientation. That denial was the aim of the proponents of Section 28 - David Wiltshire, Dame Jill Knight, Baroness Cox, Lord Halsbury, et al.".
"20th. Century Vixen, a small independent video company, has made 'Clause and Effect' in order to put the gay community's point of view on Section 28, the part of the recent local government bill which forbids the promotion of homosexuality. Derek Jarman talks about sexuality, the persecution of gays, the media and politics. Ali Brown of Haringey Council talks about other issues, including how lesbian and gay matters have been used as 'a stick to beat the left-wing authorities'. She goes on to discuss the infamous 'positive images' policy and later the possibility that Section 28 could lead to the banning of books by gay writers on the grounds of homosexuality.".
" 'Clause and Effect' cannot in any way be said to give a balanced view of the subject. It has been deliberately made to redress the balance which many feel has been tipped too far in favour of right-wing authoritarian opinion. Older students in secondary schools and colleges would benefit from seeing the video as part of any course where they are looking at relationships, sexuality or the nature of prejudice. They will certainly find plenty to discuss in Derek Jarman's provocative views.".
"Joe Marshall, the National Union of Students executive member responsible for lesbian and gay issues says: 'People have been subjected to graffiti on their doors, their food being turned out on the kitchen floor, and in several cases, to being beaten up'."
"Cases of harassment are becoming more widespread. A lesbian student at Leicester University fled her hall of residence because male neighbours had been repeatedly urinating down her window and insulting her."
"Gay students are also being driven out of student politics. Britt Hagger recently stood for the presidency of Cardiff University students' union on a Labour Club ticket." "She says that a hate campaign was whipped up against her, under the slogan 'Get the Lesbian Out'." "In her view Clause 28 is largely responsible: 'It has legitimised homophobia'."
The ban on lesbian and gay clubs at Colchester Institute of Higher Education is described.
The imposition of a ban and its subsequent withdrawal at Leeds School of Music is also reported.
The students' union at Cambridgeshire College of Arts and Technology proposed creating the executive post of lesbian and gay officer, but Lindsey Jackson, the union president says: 'Our decision was taken to the board of governors for ratification. Those sorts of constitutional changes normally go through on the nod. This one was defeated.'
David Holden-Davies, the lesbian and gay officer of Leicester University students' union, where several newspapers had been banned briefly for insulting lesbians and gays, argues that cheap jibes betray a deeper intolerance. He says, 'Clause 28 has legitimised queer-bashing'.
The article ends more optimistacally: "Gay activists maintain the setbacks cannot negate progress made over the last two or three decades. Many colleges have thriving, well-funded gay societies and gay officers. Colleges throughout the country have also been holding gay awareness weeks. Some even say that uniting against Clause 28 created renewed solidarity among a generation of gay students."
"Despite energetic activity in many schools in writing policies on equal opportunities, the issue of gay and lesbian teachers remains as difficult as ever."
"for at least a decade gay teachers have been writing personal stories about what it's like to be a gay teacher. Like anything written for a converted readership, they are not altogether sympathetic or convincing. It's harder to locate less passionate evidence."
"One of the few who has made the attempt is Gillian Squirrel, writing in the first issue of the journal Gender and Education." "She makes it clear that in this climate the one defence for the lesbian teacher is secrecy, as historically it has always been."
"Gillian Squirrel found that if teachers admitted to being gay then their sexuality was seen to cast doubt on everything else. Said one: 'Homosexuality puts into question all your other work. It makes it invalid and you don't get taken seriously. A deviant, a nut-case'."
" ' . . . The fact that a woman is a lesbian explains her views on any subject.' No wonder the lesbian in school keeps her mouth shut."
The second half of the article is about the experiences of Iona McGregor, a novelist and former classics teacher.
In the summer of 1989 it was announced that the work of the Stop the Clause Education Group was effectively ending. However they had produced, in conjunction with All London Teachers Against Racism and Fascism, the 42-page A4 booklet, Section 28 - A Guide for Schools, Teachers, and Governors . The group planned to market this with its posters but no new work would be undertaken.
The Group were able to arrange speakers for organisations wishing to use this publication as a means to open debate on sex and sexuality.
"The 42-page A4 guide shows that schools are not as restricted as many fear, and suggests how lesbian and gay issues can be raised without running foul of the new law."
"The guide offers legal opinion on the Section and describes the efforts of a south London school to carry on looking after the needs of its gay and non-gay pupils and even strengthening its commitment to equal opportunities."
"Section 28 only applied to local authorities, he read. Whatever he did, whatever he said, he, as a teacher, couldn't breach any of its provisions."
"He was devastated. The guide was nothing if not thorough, peppered with a liberal sprinkling of quotations, facts and statistics. It answered every question one might ever think to ask."
"The more he read, the clearer it became that the section was only ever intended to put the 'frighteners' on people."
"In a letter to the area's director of education the group wrote 'We're obliged to draw your attention to Section 28 lest any new appointments to the profession are not aware of the clauses'. But teachers unions in the area say they have never heard of TOPSE."
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