Teachers will have to teach about same-sex marriage
There is no question that schools will be required to teach pupils about same-sex marriage. Schools are already clearly mandated to teach pupils about marriage. The Education Act 1996, Section 403, states that where sex education is delivered in state-maintained schools pupils must be taught about
“the nature of marriage and its importance for family life and the bringing up of children.”
If the nature of marriage is redefined to include people of the same sex, pupils will have to be taught about this.
Leading QC Aidan O’Neill included this point in a legal opinion on the consequences of same-sex marriage legislation:
“… if marriage is extended to include same sex couples then the Secretary of State’s Section 403(1A)(a) Guidance will require to ensure that children learn of the nature of marriage as being a commitment of two people, regardless of gender or sex, and of the importance of this, now gender-neutral institution, for family life and the bringing up of children. This duty of ensuring that pupils learn of the nature of marriage as redefined and its relationship to family life and the bringing up of children could not be avoided by any suggestion that such teaching might be said to be, in terms of 403(1A)(b), ‘inappropriate having regard to the age and the religious and cultural background of the pupils concerned’.”
This means that even if same-sex marriage is contrary to the religious and cultural background of the pupils, they will still have to be taught about it.
Faith schools will not be exempt from teaching same-sex marriage. On 11 December 2012 when Maria Miller, Culture Secretary, introduced the government’s measure on same-sex marriage in the House of Commons, she said:
“Teachers will continue to be able to describe their own belief that marriage is between a man and a woman while, importantly, acknowledging that there can also be same-sex marriages.” (Hansard, 11 December, col 167)
Teachers will be unable to exercise conscientious objection
It is also the case that teachers will be unable to exercise conscientious objection to teaching same-sex marriage.
Aidan O’Neill QC stated in his legal opinion that if a teacher
“refused to obey the otherwise lawful instructions of her employers then this would constitute grounds for her dismissal from employment.”
T Stokes London