CONSERVATIVE leaders at County Hall have denied abandoning a policy forbidding schools from teaching anything that might promote homosexuality.
But gay campaigners have hailed what they say is a victory in their bid to persuade the county council to drop its version of the former law known as "Section 28.”
The county council has now removed from its policy any reference to its refusal to permit “inappropriate” literature to be presented to school children that could lead to “the intentional promotion of homosexuality".
Instead, the re-drafted policy now states that KCC will not allow “unnecessarily explicit” material to be used in sex education classes. The policy also states that the council will “ensure that sex education values family and marriage as the foundation of a civilised society.”
The Kent version of Section 28 – a law introduced by Margaret Thatcher but repealed by the government last year – has come under fire from both gay groups and teaching unions.
They said the policy inhibited teachers from discussing gay issues with pupils and could encourage bullying.
The Queer Youth Alliance, an umbrella group for gays that staged two protests outside County Hall last year, welcomed what it said was a climbdown.
Alliance president David Henry said: “I am delighted Sir Sandy Bruce-Lockhart [KCC Conservative leader] has backed down in the name of equality and acceptance.”
However, he criticised KCC for suggesting in its revised policy that marriage was the “foundation of a civilised society” because it implied the council remained opposed to same-sex relationships.
Kent alliance member Ray Duff said: “We are looking to KCC to explain what it means and will continue to campaign to persuade it to change its attitude.”
It is understood a small number of Conservative county councillors had expressed disquiet at the original policy and had warned it made the party look intolerant.
A spokesman for KCC denied back-tracking, saying the Conservative administration remained committed to emphasising family values in its policy.