Letter: Role model

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The Independent Culture
Sir: As a mathematician, I applaud David Blunkett's new initiative - using the example of the Bletchley Park codebreakers to motivate school pupils in their mathematical studies, by showing them how mathematical ideas can have the power to change history. I also share Mr Blunkett's evident regard for Alan Turing and his work at Bletchley.

However, I cannot help wondering whether Mr Blunkett's enthusiasms would extend as far as allowing school pupils to be taught the whole story about Turing. As a gay man, he was persecuted, criminalised and eventually driven to suicide by an ungrateful post-War establishment.

All gay pupils are in desperate need of positive role-models, to bolster self-esteem that is all-too-often under verbal - and sometimes physical - attack from their homophobic peers. Even assuming that teachers would feel able to cite Turing's achievements in support of such a positive role-model, under the constraints of Section 28, could Mr Blunkett be counted on for his support of this action? I ask this because of his failure to support, in recent parliamentary votes, the lowering of the age of consent for gay men.

Mr Blunkett may be keen to foster new Turings of the mathematical kind, but how many will he and those like him foster of the tragic, suicidal kind?


London E3