Plans are afoot to turn a controversial ‘gay play’ aimed at children as young as eleven into a DVD to be distributed to every school in the country.
The play, commissioned by homosexual lobby group Stonewall, hit the headlines yesterday as parents expressed concern that the drama is inappropriate for their children.
Stonewall’s senior education officer Chris Gibbons said: “It makes sense to make a DVD adaptation, so we can get into every school, and it can be tailored to be a part of the curriculum”.
The group is planning to raise the £150,000 necessary to distribute the DVD. It is holding a fundraising event in Brighton which will be attended by actor and Stonewall co-founder Sir Ian McKellen.
But yesterday, one mother whose two children attend Dagenham Park Community School where the play is being shown this week, said: “When I was 11, I didn’t even know what ‘gay’ was.
“It has come to something when our schools are worried about first year pupils making their minds up about their sexuality”.
Mr Gibbons dismissed parents’ concerns, arguing that the drama “is a really positive way for people to be able to talk about sexual orientation and homophobic bullying in a safe space and in a creative manner”.
Education For All, Stonewall’s drive to promote homosexuality in the school curriculum through anti-bullying strategies, will also be on the agenda at the event in Brighton.
Education For All materials advocate the use of notice boards, school diaries and websites to advertise information and services for pupils to discuss gay and lesbian issues.
Teachers are encouraged “to integrate teaching about sexual orientation into the curriculum as a whole. Identify lesbian and gay people both formally, in what is taught, and informally, in posters, assemblies etc.”
Stonewall made clear its agenda for schools in response to news that the new Equality Bill would include requirements for public bodies to promote homosexual rights.
Chief executive Ben Summerskill said: “In terms of the impact it potentially has on millions of lesbian and gay people, it is very significant, because it does apply to every single service from policing to education to health.”
In January, the Government launched controversial guidance for teachers which had been jointly produced by Stonewall and Educational Action Challenging Homophobia.
The guidance recommends that secondary schools “should make efforts to talk inclusively about same-sex parents, for example, avoid assuming all pupils will have a ‘mum and dad’.
“When schools discuss marriage, they may also discuss civil partnership and adoption rights for gay people.”
Suggested lesson ideas for four to seven-year-olds include talking about different sorts of families, so that children will understand that: “Families can be different but they all do the same sort of thing.”