Don’t say mum and dad… teachers told not to assume pupils have heterosexual parents (UK)

Daily Mail (UK) 30th January 2008
Teachers should not assume that their pupils have a “mum and dad” under guidance aimed at tackling anti-gay bullying in schools. It says primary pupils as young as four should be familiarised with the idea of same-sex couples to help combat homophobic attitudes. Teachers should attempt to avoid assumptions that pupils will have a conventional family background, it urges.

It goes on to suggest the word “parents” may be more appropriate than “mum and dad”, particularly in letters and emails to the child’s home. When discussing marriage with secondary pupils, teachers should also educate pupils about civil partnerships and gay adoption rights. The guidance – produced for the Government by gay rights group Stonewall – will be formally launched today by Schools Secretary Ed Balls. It states that children who call classmates “gay” should be treated the same as racists as part of a “zero tolerance” crackdown on the use of the word as an insult.

Teachers should avoid telling boys to “be a man” or accuse them of behaving like a “bunch of women”. This sort of rebuke “leads to bullying of those who do not conform to fixed ideas about gender”, the guidance states. At the same time, schools should encourage gay role models among staff, parents and governors. Homosexual staff should be able to discuss their private lives after the consultation with the head teacher.