All schools must back same-sex marriage, say humanists

The Humanist Society Scotland (HSS) is calling on the Scottish Parliament to force teachers to promote same-sex marriage, even if it contravenes their religious conscience.

Responding to draft sex and relationship education guidance for schools, the HSS said that allowing faith schools to uphold a traditional marriage view “goes against equality”.

The call, which is backed by two MSPs, has been criticised by The Christian Institute.

Out of step

Simon Calvert, Deputy Director of Public Affairs at the Institute said it is “no surprise that atheist campaign groups are yet again calling for curbs on church schools”.

He described the call as, “totally out of step with the great majority of parents who support these schools, and out of step with the great British tradition of tolerance”.

The draft sex and relationship guidance currently contains an opt-out clause for teachers who conscientiously object to issues like same-sex marriage.

Opt-out

It reads: “In issuing this guidance it is the Scottish Government’s expectation that if a teacher, child or young person is asked to do something against his or her conscience, he or she should be able to raise this with the school or local authority.

“The Scottish Government would expect alternative arrangements to be made where possible.”

The HSS argue that an opt-out should not exist following the introduction of same-sex marriage legislation. The group also question how sex education is conducted in denominational schools.

Education

“It is no longer acceptable that religious bodies have a say in the sex and relationships education of children”, the group said.

However, Mr Calvert commented: “I trust the Scottish Government will ignore these extreme views and ensure that there are vital protections for freedom of thought, conscience and religion.”

The call by the HSS is supported by Alison McInnes, the Scottish Liberal Democrat spokeswoman for justice and Patrick Harvie, co-convener of the Scottish Green Party.

Danger

Harvie is also at the forefront of the proposed Assisted Suicide (Scotland) Bill.

The Director of the Scottish Catholic Education Service, Michael McGrath, recognised the danger that removing an opt-out clause would have in Roman Catholic schools.

He said: “It cannot be right to force teachers to promote a vision of marriage which is at odds with their own sincerely held views or beliefs.”

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