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Thatcher is dead but lest we forget that in the 1980s her government brought in an insidious pieces of legislation that was specifically designed to make life worse for gay people.
If you’re in your twenties or thirties, you probably didn’t realise at the time but the teachers at your school were forbidden by law from saying anything about gay life. If you were a straight kid, maybe you just never knew what being gay meant, and maybe you were unwittingly homophobic until you worked it all out for yourself later on. If you were a gay kid, it probably meant that you had no idea what was going on in your head and you probably felt miserable, lonely and perverted. You probably had no one to confide in, and nowhere to feel safe.
Teachers couldn’t challenge the homophobia you may have been subjected to, because it was illegal for them to do so. So who was responsible for this piece of legislation? Who indeed. Margaret Thatcher brought in Section 28 in 2003, with the sole intention of making life a misery for gay people. The exact wording of the amendment stated that a local authority could not “intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality” or “promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship”. Bad news for kids with gay parents too then - their families became “pretend families” overnight.
Thatcher is now dead, but her homophobia still echoes in many schools. Gay issues may have made it to PSHE classes, but many teachers, especially older ones who taught under Section 28, still feel apprehensive about the topic, and homophobic bullying is still rife. The only escape is to make sure that the kids in school now who grow up to become teachers don’t continue the cycle of educational homophobia. Don’t let Thatcher’s legacy live on. MS