TUC LGBT conference condemns Accelerated Christian Education

The TUC (Trades Union Congress) LGBT 2014 conference is currently underway, and yesterday the delegates unanimously passed an emergency resolution condemning Accelerated Christian Education’s teaching on homosexuality.

The LGBT conference represent the LGBT sections of all the unions in the TUC. Twenty-nine unions were represented in the voting, with six trades and regional councils observing. The anti-ACE motion was passed unanimously, with no abstentions or objections. The Prospect union tabled the motion, seconded by the University and College Union, which referred to ACE as “faith fascism”. The National Union of Teachers also spoke in favour of the motion, along with ATL, CWU, Unite, and CSP.

This means that the resolution is now adopted as policy for the TUC National LGBT committee.

David Waldock presents at the TUC LGBT Conference 2014 (Photo: Gillian Donaldson-Selby)
David Waldock presents at the TUC LGBT Conference 2014 (Photo: Gillian Donaldson-Selby)

The real hero of the day is ACE survivor David Waldock, who has previously written movingly of his experiences as a gay teenager in an ACE school. He tabled the emergency motion, and he spoke in favour of it. The text of the motion and his speech script (which may differ from what he actually said in the heat of the moment) are below.

TUC LGBT Conference 2014 Motion on Homophobic Teaching

It has become apparent through press reports on Friday 20 June that a number of schools in the UK are using American textbooks from the Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) curriculum, which teach – amongst other abhorrent views – that homosexuality is a sin and a learned behaviour. The textbooks also compare homosexuality to murder and stealing.

Conference is extremely concerned that children are being taught such homophobic views, which will inevitably lead to disrespect towards LGBT people, at the very least. Such views may also trigger acts of violence and hate crime.

Whilst recognising that many of the schools are independent or private, this is contrary to the spirit of the Public Sector Equality Duty. At a very basic level, all children should be taught respect for others, no matter what their background, culture, gender or sexuality.

Conference calls on the TUC LGBT Committee to:

      i)         write to the Secretary of State for Education expressing our concerns regarding the use of the ACE curriculum;

     ii)         work with this government and future governments to ensure that all schools provide a balanced curriculum with statutory Sex and Relationships Education; and

    iii)         ensure that tackling homophobia is rigorously examined in school inspections.

David Waldock’s Speech

Recent news stories have highlighted that at least thirty independent schools in the UK – and possibly as many as sixty – are using the fundamentalist Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) curriculum. Students using the ACE curriculum individually study workbooks, called PACEs, in silence.

The absence of criticism in delivery clearly promotes the explicit content: that homosexuality is a sin. This practice, i.e. that students study in silence, contradicts the assertion from the Christian Education Europe that:

“the users of our curriculum are independent and have the choice to adapt and manage the content as they choose… The curriculum is therefore only part of the educational experience of the child must be informed by the teacher/parent as they choose to interpret and apply the curriculum in a way that reflects their individual learning outcomes, value system and free choice.”

[Here David showed the conference this PACE text]

In this science PACE, it defines homosexual as: “Having unnatural sexual feelings toward one of the same sex”.

It goes on to say:

“The Bible states homosexuality is a sin. In Old Testament times, God commanded homosexuals be put to death. Since God never command death for normal or acceptable actions, it is as unreasonable to say that homosexuality is normal as it is to say that murder or stealing is normal.”

It is impossible to say that this teaching enables lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans pupils to develop their self-esteem, and I can say from first-hand experience, as a former ACE student, that it is crushing. Being told that you don’t exist, and being told that you’re sinner who deserves to be killed, can easily give rise to stress, depression and suicide, issues we know are rampant in young lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people.

I strongly affirm the right of people to hold religious beliefs, but does not allow the active promotion homophobia in a school environment, no matter how independent the school.

Because these schools are inspected in a variety of ways, the content of the texts aren’t subjected to scrutiny, and there is no accountability.

Conference, we know that there is complexity surrounding the inspection of some schools, particularly if they are independent and/or faith schools. However, governments do have responsibility to ensure that children receive a broad and balanced curriculum, and this should not mean that schools – no matter what – are free to teach homophobic assertions.

As the motion says, all children should be taught respect for others.

Incidentally, some of the other teachings in ACE textbooks include:

• “God wants wives to submit to their husbands”

• That children can avoid AIDS by “practising the Bible”

• That children should avoid contact with non-believers

• That racism, and particularly apartheid, can be justified on economic grounds

Conference, I implore you to condemn the homophobic, misogynistic, racist and sectarian content of the ACE curriculum, and join me in voting in favour of the motion.

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