Scottish councils to get rules on sex education

Ministers last night announced plans to issue Scottish local authorities with legally-enforceable guidance on sex education in schools.

The move was seen as a concession to campaigners calling for the retention of Section 28 in Scotland, who are led by Brian Souter, the millionaire owner of the Stagecoach transport group. Mr Souter yesterday stepped up his support for the ban on local authorities promoting homosexuality to be retained. His Keep The Clause campaign will reach its climax in a ballot later this month.

Last night Mr Souter was expected to face questions about his support for the ban when he appeared on BBC1's Question Time with the gay pop star Boy George. On Wednesday the singer told a meeting of MPs and ministers at the House of Commons of the prejudices he had encountered from childhood.

The plans to give the Government powers to issue "guidance" to local authorities on the conduct of sex education in school were announced by the Scottish Minister for Children, Sam Galbraith. Mr Galbraith outlined an amendment to the Standards in Scotland's Schools Bill currently going through Parliament that would require authorities to "have regard" to this guidance. Mr Galbraith said: "Clearly the need for adequate safeguards regarding the teaching of sex education is an issue which continues to be of concern."

Mr Souter yesterday denied that his campaign was born out of bigotry. He said: "I think that someone who is bigoted is intolerant of other people's lifestyle, values and their sexual practices. I don't consider myself intolerant at all.

"I think the issue here is really what we teach our children and I think lots of people feel like me. It's not intolerant to be concerned about what your children are taught." The campaign has sent millions of ballot papers to Scottish homes for an "independent referendum" on the issue. The result will be announced on 22 May.

Protesters in favour of the abolition of Section 28 have carried out symbolic burnings of the voting papers in Edinburgh and Glasgow as well as painting a Stagecoach bus pink in Glasgow last week.

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