My son brought home a letter yesterday from the headteacher of his school. It was addressed to all parents and carers, " I am aware that a number of parents are currently engaged in signing a petition in relation to our planned work during LGBT History Month".
The letter goes on to explain that a number of parents have contacted the school to report that they are being pressurised and in some cases intimidated into signing the petition. The issue of religion naturally looms large in the objections being raised and as a means of exerting pressure on parents to sign the petition.
My own reaction to the idea of homosexuality being taught in Primary School was to pity the poor teacher taking that class. Teaching must be hard enough, sex education in our uptight northern European culture even harder, same-sex education could descend into a snigger-fest of embarrassment - particularly amongst the boys who seem to have developed a macho culture at an alarmingly young age. I reckon they should probably get them to cross-dress for these lessons.
But it does raise a serious question that the school seems to be dealing with admirably. To what extent do we tolerate intolerance?
The school and the community at large encourages respect and tolerance for diverse lifestyles and religions. The school closes for just about every religious holiday known to man and a few that appear to have been made up (Yoda's birthday??). But some of those religions do not of course preach nor practice such tolerance. As Matt Morgan correctly pointed out, the Jedi's had a downright racist attitude towards the Sand People .
It is a reminder though of how little progress has been made since the days of Her Thatcher's Clause 28 (eagerly supported by the closeted Peter Lilly and Michael Portillo who were allegedly found celebrating the Conservative victory in 1992 by guzzling down more than just champagne).
I watched the brilliant Gus Van Sant movie 'Milk' last week with its stirring portrayal of gay rights campaigner Harvey Milk's successful fight against legislation banning homosexuals from working as teachers. In both cases we look back on those dark days of ignorance and congratulate ourselves on how liberal we now are. Well maybe not.
It'll be interesting to see how this plays out and I imagine once parents have a look at the teaching materials, that would no doubt not appease the ghost of Harvey Milk, their objections will recede - I don't think a day trip to Ducky is on the curriculum for Year 6.