Call for right to remove kids from gay marriage lessons

Parents should have the right to remove their children from school lessons about gay marriage, MSPs have heard.

Michael Calwell, of the Family Education Trust, made the call during an evidence session in front of the Equal Opportunities Committee which is looking into plans to redefine marriage in Scotland.

Mr Calwell outlined concerns for parents who disagree with same-sex marriage.

Obligation

He said: “We need first of all what you might call a statutory obligation to inform parents if any teaching about marriage, which conflicts with their view, is raised in the classroom.”

“The second thing would be the right to withdraw from that, and the third thing would be a positive obligation of the state to actually provide them with education that does conform with their understanding of the vital, pre-political if you like, nature and purpose of marriage.”

The committee also heard evidence from teachers’ union the Educational Institute of Scotland, gay rights group Stonewall, the police, NHS and the Scottish Catholic Education Service.

Conscience

Earlier this month, Scotland for Marriage raised concerns about civil liberty and freedom of conscience for those who believe in traditional marriage if the law is changed.

In written evidence to the committee the group said education laws should change to give parents a choice as to how, when and whether their children learn about gay marriage in school.

A Scotland for Marriage spokesman said: “School classrooms should not become a battle ground in the culture wars over the meaning of marriage, yet that’s what will happen if this Bill goes through without sensible safeguards.”

Respect

“There are many parents of good will in Scotland who have concerns about gay marriage, and their beliefs deserve to be respected by schools.”

The group’s petition against the Holyrood plans has reached more than 51,000 signatures.

A representative from the Church of Scotland told MSPs two weeks ago that the Kirk may have to stop conducting wedding ceremonies if plans to redefine marriage go ahead.

Revd Alan Hamilton said the prospect of “years of exhausting legal challenge” is “very concerning”.

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