Tessa’s News Roundup: Week III

Stephen Fry speaks in disestablishment debate last Thursday.

Father Stephen Fry spoke in disestablishment debate last Thursday at the Cambridge Union Society.

With LGBT+ History Month on our doorstep, it is rather apt that the buzzwords of the week have been ‘diversity’ and ‘tolerance’.

The Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, has shown strong support for Ofsted’s decision to question Christian schools on LGBT+ matters. Despite accusations of ‘inappropriate probing’ from parents and teachers of Grindon Hall Christian School in Sunderland and The Durham Free School, Morgan remains “unapologetic”. Sir Michael Wilshaw, Ofsted chief, also defended the questioning, describing the behaviour of pupils at Durham Free School as ‘homophobic’. Morgan continues to push for diversity and tolerance as part of her agenda, inherited from previous Secretary, Gove, for ‘British values’ in schools.

It is sad that open-mindedness must be labelled an exclusively ‘British value’, surely we should be working to make it a universal given, but at least democracy, respect for the rule of the law, individual liberty, and mutual respect for those of different faiths and beliefs is being pushed. Some however, don’t feel these values are being pushed far enough. Mr Richard Cairns, head of Brighton College, has quite rightly pointed out that we should have “not just mutual respect for those of different faiths and beliefs…but also as a duty to respect the equal rights of men and women, disabled and able, gay and straight”.

The need for these supposedly ‘British values’ is also apparent in universities. An NUS survey suggests that only 20% of university students have discussed LGBT+ issues in Sex and Relationship Education (SRE). Worryingly, the survey of 2,500 students reveals that a shocking third feel that the SRE they receive is inapplicable to real life. The NUS has called for compulsory SRE, encompassing LGBT+ sex education, in schools and universities to be introduced into education policy. Results of research into SRE in universities and schools is set to be published by the Education Select Committee shortly. Whilst both Labour and the Liberal Democrats are committed to introducing compulsory SRE, the Conservatives are still yet to reveal their position.

Here in Cambridge, another crammed week can be crossed off the calendar. Monday night saw Kaleidoscope sensationally shaking it up once again, rather impressively, with a free cocktail pitcher per person on the guest list! Then on Wednesday, students flocked to Trinity for more flowing free drinks – and of course, copies of the print edition of the magazine – at the Get Real launch party. 

Comedian Stephen Fry cooked up excitement when crowds congregated for Thursday’s debate at the Cambridge Union. Speaking in opposition to the disestablishment of the Church of England, he may have lost the debate, but amused the audience with his quick quips. His recent marriage to Elliot Spencer did not go unmentioned, with the Union presenting him with a congratulatory cake. Newly-wedded Fry has also rebuffed rumours of his hopes to start a family following The Sun’s misreported allusions to his ‘baby plans’. It just goes to show that you shouldn’t believe everything you read in the papers. (You can trust my column though!) 

 

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Tessa Standen

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