British school program teaches kids about same-sex families

March 23, 2007

LONDON — Thanks to a new educational project, UK school children are learning about queer families. The program, called No Outsiders, utilizes books like King & King, in which a prince decides to be with a male, and And Tango Makes Three, in which two male penguins have a child. The program is currently running in 14 different British schools, and is directed towards children ages 4 through 11.

Elizabeth Atkinson, the director of the program, told Cox News Service that there is a major problem with gay prejudice in the UK schools: "There are more homophobic incidents in our schools than racist incidents," she said. These incidents include using the word “gay” when harassing someone, and kids being bullied when classmates learn they have two mommies or two daddies. Kids who are the targets of such harassment may suffer in their schoolwork or even leave school entirely, because of the stress these incidents cause.

However, UK’s Christians and Muslims are not happy with the program. "Islam doesn't approve of that sort of behavior," Tahir Alam, of the Muslim Council of Britain, told the news service. "It's morally unacceptable." He also said that this program almost threatens freedom of religion. Atkinson’s reply to Cox News is that "religions have been used as the excuse for hatred and intolerance for too long.”

Simon Calvert, who is a spokesperson for Britain’s Christian Institute, told the Sunday Observer that he thought the program was contributing to "the active promotion of homosexuality in schools.” (Atkinson has also denied this.) “…Let's arrange a series of meetings around the country where parents of primary school children can look at these books," Calvert told the paper. "The majority would be aghast."

Despite the protests, No Outsiders has already been granted over a million dollars from the British government via the Economic and Social Research Council. Atkinson told Cox News that she would eventually like this program to be used in other UK schools as well. – Issued by Gay Link Content

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