Teaching under Section 28
Following the introduction of Section 28, teachers had to rethink the way they taught certain subjects. Char remembers the impact on a colleague's 'diversity library' at school.
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TRANSCRIPTThatcher brought in within the Education Act a very badly written clause called Clause 28 which said that you were not allowed to promote homosexuality within the education system. Now, when, it was very badly written and so... it should never have gone in there in the first place but she put it in and [pause] because it was so badly written the general consensus amongst gay activists was that councils should do nothing y’know, that they should not comply, they should not alter anything about the way that they were doing things, that books should not be taken off the shelf etc etc which was what that was all about. It was sort of like trying to keep the lid on the sheer number of lesbian and gay teachers that there were so that they weren’t allowed to be out in schools because then that would be seen to be promoting homosexuality even though that’s a fantastic role model for everybody let alone poor benighted lesbians and gays within your class, who could do with knowing that they weren’t the only ones in the world but a lot of organisations started to, because they supported Thatcher and they, and also not even that, they just wanted to make sure that the issues that they held dearest to them weren’t distracted from by queers.
I remember I’d been working very closely with a woman who’d set up, cause I also ran a lot of... racial equality courses and did anti-racist strategies courses and all sorts of things so I worked right across the board even though I was allegedly only on disability. And I’d been working with this woman who was really really right on and very trendy and stuff, straight woman, and she’d set up an extremely good library for all ages that schools across Kirklees could call on to bring some understanding of black and ethnic minority children and parenting and cultural issues and so on and so forth into schools and just have a presence of black and minority ethnic writers on the shelf and images of black and minority ethnic children and parents and so on and so forth and in positions of authority and so on and so forth. It was that sort of thing that she was doing and it was, at that time, and I know it sounds pathetic now but at the time it was really cutting edge to do anything like that and to find these books was really hard. She searched literally worldwide for these and she’d got a room, a big room [unclear] she’d shelved out at her own expense and she was completely passionate about it.
Anyway, this particular day, I went along with some recommendations that I’d heard cause I’d been down somewhere in... I think down in London for a course or something and I’d heard ‘oh there’s this new series of books coming out’ so I went to tell her about them and I’d got some samples with me and she was busy rooting through all the shelves and I said ‘oh are you looking for something?’ and she said ‘yes, I’m getting rid of anything that might break Clause 28’ and this was a trendy right on woman and I was horrified