Democratic Unionist Party MP Jim Shannon made the comments in a Commons debate concerning the inclusive sex and relationship education which more and more MPs consider to be helpful in overcoming violence, sexism and homophobia. Shannon considers it to be unfair to force Christian teachers to infuse the ‘new governmental morality’, that radically differs from their own, into children’s minds.
“We must also allow teachers who are uncomfortable discussing and promoting British moral values that might undermine their own dearly held personal faith to withdraw from teaching those values, with no penalty and no fear of losing their job. We have many examples of that,” he insisted, “There is the example of Ashers in Northern Ireland. We have the case of the bed and breakfast owners and that of the Christian registrar. It is not enough for our Prime Minister to talk about freedom to live one’s faith; we must now have the support of the law to do that. Any legislation must protect the right of teachers to withdraw from promoting values that undermine their faith.”
“I understand that we cannot press our faith on others, but by the same token we should not be expected to directly oppose the teachings of our faith on the say-so of others. Teachers do not want their teaching to promote the latest Government definition of morality; they want it to help a child to have a fully rounded life and to make a difference. Allow them to do that in an appropriate way and legislate to protect them with any proposed changes,” he added, “I have learned a lot from the Ashers [gay cake] case about the need for protection, and I hope that the Government, and particularly the Minister, can take that on board. To me, this is essential for any family: the right to teach their child the morality and the standards they hope their child will stick to, and the right to withdraw their child from a lesson that they feel will not complement how they teach their child. Again, that is an absolute must for me and the people I represent.”