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Good news for teachers: guidance amended to protect Christian speech on marriage

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Promises made. Promises broken. Promises kept again.

As we alerted our supporters last year in a call to action, the government sought to amend its guidance to prevent teachers in independent schools, including Christian faith schools, from defending marriage as between one man and one woman as true marriage. This was a sharp departure from promises made by the Department for Education that legalising same-sex ‘marriage’ would not impact the rights of Christian teachers to speak to their beliefs on traditional marriage.

Former Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove, explained during the passage of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill that: “…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.” He further referenced the fact that this position had been, and continues to be the statutory guidance of the Secretary of State for Education since it was issued in 2000 under David Blunkett.

Like many promises about Christian freedoms made during that period, the government recanted and sought to add guidance which would punish individual teachers and schools for espousing Christian views on marriage. The draft independent school standards guidance had suggested that official school standards were breached if a curriculum “suggests that same-sex marriages or civil partnerships should not be recognised as being lawful unions under civil law.”

We noted at the time just how dangerous the proposed draft guidance was. Praise be to God; you took action and we are incredibly grateful to you for it.

Following a consultation, the highlight of which was the widespread participation of Christians, the final guidance has been amended to provide an exemption for independent faith schools. This means our Christian schools can continue to speak to the truth of marriage and family.

The final guidance, at paragraph 2.15 now states that there would be a breach if the curriculum:

“…were to facilitate debate on same-sex marriage, but teaches pupils that the parties to such a marriage do not merit the protection which the legal status of marriage or civil partnership affords in law - although teaching that the faith position of the school is that marriage is only between a man and a woman is acceptable.”[emphasis added]

This victory is a symbol of what Christians working together can accomplish. We need to stay engaged. An ideological war is being waged for the hearts and minds of our children. Let’s honour this victory by continuing to fight for our children’s future! 

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