Law & policy


This is the time to take action to make nurseries, schools and all kinds of childcare places really welcoming and safe for the children of lesbians and gay men. This page sets out what law and guidance there is in this country that can help to make this happen.

The Equality Act 2010 outlaws discrimination in the provision of goods, facilities or services, including education, childcare and adoption. So that basically if something is offered, you can have it. This includes education, so that for example pupils can no longer be refused admission to a school because of them–or their parents–being gay. And they can’t be treated differently when they’re in there either! Now all children need to grow up knowing about and valuing all kinds of different families.

See Stonewall’s website for more information on the law.

Section 28

Section 28, which specifically attacked lesbian and gay families as ‘pretended family relationships’, and directed local government employees that they should not present these as equal to heterosexual families, was at last repealed in 2003.

Support to schools on dealing with homophobic bullying

Guidance from the Department for Education

Guidance from the Department for Education on preventing and responding to homophobic bullying in schools, ‘Safe to Learn: embedding anti-bullying work in schools’ was released in September 2007. The guidance provides school governors, heads, teachers and other staff with information about how to prevent and respond to homophobic bullying.

Stand up for us: challenging homophobia in schools

Part of the Healthy Schools initiative, guidelines on dealing with homophobic bullying in schools. Published by the Department for Education and the Department of Health. The website advises schools that working to address homophobia and tackle homophobic bullying will help you to meet your obligations in these areas:

  • Achieve economic well-being
  • The five outcomes for children as described in Every Child Matters and the Children Act, 2004
  • The behaviour and attendance strand of the Key Stage 3 Strategy
  • The Primary National Strategy and the primary behaviour and attendance pilot.

Spell It Out

The Greater London Authority and Stonewall in July 2006 launched Spell it Out, a DVD that provides teachers and other school staff with the tools and confidence to tackle homophobia in their school. Ken Livingstone, former Mayor of London, said he is committed to work with the teaching profession to tackle the problem of homophobic bullying in schools and the ‘Spell it Out’ campaign is an important step in raising awareness of this issue.

Guidance from the National Union of Teachers on supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students

This guidance provides information and advice to NUT members on supporting pupils who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) and on tackling homophobia within the school environment. It says:

It is important for primary schools to provide positive images of lesbian, gay and bisexual people and for the sexual orientation of famous and successful lesbian, gay and bisexual people both past and present to be acknowledged in every subject. This work needs to be placed in a wider context where lesbians, gay men and bisexual people are seen as citizens and participants in a wide range of activities.

Secondary school pupils and college students can discuss the subjects referred to above and also more complex questions such as prejudice, racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia.

Schools Out and Education for All provide more resources.

Parenting issues

Adoption and fostering

From Stonewall’s website:

There has never been a law preventing lesbian, gay or bisexual individuals from adopting children. The Adoption and Children Act 2002 now allows same-sex couples to apply for adoption jointly in England and Wales.

The Scottish Executive supports a change in the law to allow same-sex couples to be considered for adoption and a bill is currently making it’s way through the Scottish Parliament.

Employment law that protects teachers and childcare workers

Employment anti-discrimination law

Anti-discrimination laws that came into force in December 2003 tackle discrimination in employment and training on the grounds of sexual orientation and religion. These regulations offer protection against discrimination on these grounds for the first time ever – a major step forward.


Researching approaches to sexualities equality in primary schools

‘No Outsiders’ was a 28-month research project based in primary schools and funded by The Economic and Social Research Council. The project was led by Elizabeth Atkinson and Renée DePalma at the University of Sunderland, in collaboration with researchers at the University of Exeter and the Institute of Education (University of London). During the course of the project, a team of primary teachers developed ideas and resources to address lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality in their own schools and their communities. They published: Invisible boundaries: addressing sexualities equality in children’s worlds (Trentham 2008).