Reported in The Scotsman that children as young as four are to be taught about same-sex relationships through fairytales and storybooks with gay and lesbian characters.
A pilot scheme to introduce children to gay issues is running in several schools across England with stories such as "King and King", about a gay prince, or "And Tango Makes Three", about gay penguins who fall in love and raise an adopted child.
The £600,000 scheme, called the "No Outsiders" project, has the backing of the Department for Education and is designed to help schools adjust to new rules on promoting homosexuality as a lifestyle.
According to those heading the project, children in one participating school used the "King & King" fairytale - which tells of a prince who rejects the love of three princesses before falling in love with and "marrying" another prince - as a basis for writing "alternative Cinderella" stories. In another participating school in London, children aged between 4 and 11 are rehearsing for a performance of an opera called "The Sissy Duckling" about a male duckling who loves cooking, cleaning and art.
In 2003 the government repealed a law which had banned local authorities from promoting homosexuality as a lifestyle and the "No Outsiders" pilot scheme is regarded as the first effort to make gay issues part of modern primary school life.
Project leaders reject suggestions they are peddling propaganda and say that stories such as "King & King" are no more propaganda than is Cinderella or other traditional fairytales. "These books are presenting one aspect of the spectrum of daily life," Elizabeth Atkinson told BBC radio. "What we are doing is representing reality ... Many, many children in this country have this as part of their everyday experience."
She said one of the main aims was to prevent bullying of children who have homosexual parents or who are perceived as gay or lesbian by their peers. "The life experience of all children will be profoundly affected by the ethos of their school, and this means creating a school environment where no one is an outsider."
Predictably religious groups have expressed outrage, and for once The GOS is forced to agree with them. Tahir Alam, a spokesman on education for the Muslim Council of Britain, said the project was promoting notions of family life which were contrary to the teachings of Islam and many other religions. "Why are we introducing these ideas to such young children?" he said in a telephone interview. "A lot of parents will be very concerned about the exposure of their children to such books, which are contrary to their religious beliefs and values."
"This is tantamount to child abuse," said Stephen Green, director of the religious campaign group Christian Voice. "The whole project is nothing more than propaganda aimed at primary school children to make them sympathetic to homosexuality." Green warned that the project could expose children to sexual predators by making them think "that two boys fiddling with each other ... is perfectly normal. Parents should be able to have the peace of mind of knowing that school is a safe place, and to have their children indoctrinated with pro-homosexual propaganda is an abuse of the trust parents place in schools."
While the church groups' response is not only predictable but also slightly hysterical, they do have a point. And the point is that schools should not be aggressively promulgating moral views that are not supported by most parents. Mr.Green is quite right - parents do need to feel that schools are safe and will reinforce the world-view shared by the majority. A school is not some kind of laboratory where self-proclaimed forward-thinkers can experiment with other people's kids. And for the government to be forking out £600,000 to fund the experiment is outrageous. That would have paid the salaries of twenty proper teachers, or kitted up nearly 600 squaddies in Afghanistan with body armour.
It is, of course, entirely correct to say that the stories are "propaganda". The purpose of propaganda is to influence and guide people into thinking what you want them to think, which seems to fit the bill pretty well in this case.
And for Elizabeth Atkinson to suggest that the stories "represent reality" is seriously deranged. Pray tell us, Elizabeth, since you evidently know much better than we do, just how many children in this country have three rejected princesses as part of their everyday experience, let alone a homosexual relationship between two princes?
Personally, the GOS has never met a queer prince, nor yet a princess. Typical, isn't it? You wait all your life for a bloody princess, and then three come along at once.
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