Page 1

Sir Sandy Bruce-Lockhart OBE Leader of the Council

David Henry President - The Queer Youth Alliance Manchester Gay and Lesbian Centre 49-51 Sidney Street Manchester M17HB

County Hall Maidstone Kent ME14 lXQ Fax: (01622) 694085 Tel: (01622) 694310 e-mail: sandy.bruce

2nd September, 2004

Dear David Thank you very much for writing to me concerning Kent's Education policy. In your letter you refer to what the County Council and I were reported to have said 4 years ago. I hope you will agree that what is most important is what our current policy now is. In particular, I totally reject the idea that we have a "Section 28" as you imply. In February 2002, I published Kent County Council's "Next 4 Years" policy statement which says that, "We will encourage schools to provide a curriculum that prepares young people for responsible adult life". The County Council believes that sex education needs to be seen in the context of, and in proportion to, this larger issue of preparing children for adult life. As such, it should include relationship education in terms of friends and family, advice on how to apply for and win employment, advice on financial management, on parenting and on drugs and alcohol. Above all the principles of tolerance and understanding and respect for others are central to what we believe. Nevertheless parents across Kent have been highly concerned about totally inappropriate material used in sex education for young children. Our policies also state that the Council shall not publish, purchase or distribute to children inappropriate material for any sex education, including the intentional promotion of homosexuality, but will encourage children to lead a healthy, fulfilling and meaningful life in which they respect themselves as individuals, whilst developing an understanding, tolerance and respect for others and their differences, treating all people as equal. A number of people have drawn attention to the need to stop homophobic bullying and this is rightly a key part of the County Council's policy entitled "Safe Schools" which seeks to reduce bullying of all kinds. The Safe Schools initiative has seen dramatic reductions in bullying and has received national acclaim for the quality and results it has achieved. Members of the Council have also put in place new, stronger equalities policies which are totally opposed to any discrimination of any kind. We state, "As a major employer and provider of services, Members and Officers of KCC are committed to promoting equality, valuing diversity and combating unfair treatment. Equality of opportunity and freedom from discrimination is a fundamental right and we will exercise leadership in promoting this right."

The Council's new “Supporting Independence Programme�, which is central to all our work, reflects this in targeting the most disadvantaged groups in Kent The Supporting Independence Programme is nationally recognised and aims to foster strong and cohesive communities that build individual and community capacity and where all people are recognised as being equal and share common values and aspirations. A core ethos for us is improving this life chances of the individual and promoting social and economic inclusion and equality and valuing diversity is very much aligned to these initiatives. I hope this helps to clarify Kent's position and I am very pleased to enclose a copy of our leaflet "KCC-Valuing Diversity... meeting the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, heterosexual and transgender people", which I hope you will find of interest. I will, of course, also copy this letter and send leaflets to your co-signatories which I trust will be helpful. Yours sincerely

Sir Sandy Bruce-Lockhart

Letter from Kent County Council: Section 28 Policy  

Letter from Sir Sandy Bruce-Lockheart of Kent County Council in relation to concerns raised by LGBT Rights Groups around the council's "Mini...