Gay pupils 'struggle alone because of Section 28'

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The Independent Online

A pupil who struggled alone for years with his homosexuality told his teacher he had not confided in her earlier because of Section 28, the law that bans the promotion of homosexuality by local authorities, a teacher revealed yesterday.

Max Hyde, a teacher at Trinity school in Leamington Spa, told how a sixth former whom she had taught for years came to see her. "He explained that he had come to realise that he was gay," said Ms Hyde, who is also the vice chairperson of the legal and professional services committee of the National Union of Teachers.

"He had struggled with himself and I was the first person he had ever come out to. Some years later I asked him why he had struggled alone for so long when he knew what my reaction would be. He said that he had been afraid that he would put me in a difficult position because of Section 28."

Members of the National Union of Teachers meeting in Harrogate urged the Government to press ahead with the repeal of Section 28 and halt the increase in homophobic bullying.

Ministers said yesterday they would continue with the repeal, after reports that they were likely to postpone it until after the election if they were defeated again in the Lords.

Delegates passed a motion condemning the Lords and backing "all forms of stable relationships from which children benefit".

John Burns, of Sutton, said that a survey of 1000 schools showed 82 per cent knew of homophobic name-calling and 26 per cent of physical homophobic bullying, while only six per cent had policies to deal with these problems.

Doug McAvoy, the union's general secretary, said: "The Prime Minister previously believed it was right to repeal Section 28. Nothing that has happened shows that it is wrong."

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