Sunderland school settles gay lessons row

Castle View Academy Principal Janet Bridges

Castle View Academy Principal Janet Bridges

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A PRINCIPAL today dismissed claims her academy was considering adopting controversial rules banning the “promotion of homosexuality” in the classroom.

Janet Bridges, academy principal at Castle View Enterprise Academy, has blamed an administration error for “incorrect information” being published on its website.

The document sparked fears that the multimillion-pound independent school was about to introduce measures preventing staff from making positive comments about gay life in lessons such as sex education.

The mistake also meant the Cartwright Road academy was featured on an online petition fighting the alleged moves, which are believed to be under consideration at other schools in the country.

However, Ms Bridges said the document was merely one of several policy drafts shared by schools and project management companies as examples before the academy opened.

Never formally approved by the governors or adopted by the academy, it has now been removed from its website.

It is also no longer part of the online petition.

Ms Bridges stressed the academy for 11 to 16-year-olds promoted “inclusivity without prejudice” and had adopted a “single equality policy”, which it has updated in line with recent laws.

“We are thankful that this administrative error has been brought to our attention and apologise for any upset it may have caused,” she said.

The national change.org petition was launched after gay campaigners claimed that some schools were planning to reintroduce terminology from former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s Section 28 into their sex and relationships policy.

It stated that while “objective discussion of homosexuality may take place in the classroom, the governing body will not permit the promotion of homosexuality”.

Introduced in 1988, the amendment banned teachers from discussing gay issues in the classroom.

The law was eventually repealed in 2003.

However, campaigners claim that the lack of a national curriculum on sex and relationship education has led to a return of the same restrictions in some classrooms. The petition states the new policies were “their own version of Section 28”.