Schooling under Section 28

Melissa, Claire G, and Oak remember their experiences of schooling under Section 28.



What I do know is that, under Section 28 as a queer – as a gay assumed person, as a queer child, it was quite horrible, horrifying. I was, you know, bullied, as I say, almost constantly. One of the things that I really notice looking back is that the teachers definitely knew, but a lot of them did nothing, for a mixture of, you know, how can they say, don’t bully the queer kids, when they’re not allowed to say what that is. How can they stop that violence?

And then there’s also other teachers who were like, you know, approved of it, and were in their heads sort of thinking, oh, that’ll make a man of me. That failed, obviously. But there were also definitely teachers who were like, you know, beat the faggy, beat the gay kids, and obviously couldn’t say it, but also didn’t do anything to stop that. And that was pretty, you know – that was just, that was how it was for me. Yeah. The lack of, you know, being able to intervene, I think was quite deliberate in that way, yeah.

Claire G


We also had this lesson called something like personal, social, and moral education, where we’d talk about all sorts of kind of moral and ethical stuff that you – just trying to make us more and more kind of moral and thoughtful human beings, I suppose. But I do remember at one point they had, in one lesson, they had a list of statements that we could, that were kind of prompts for discussion, really. And one of the prompts was something like: is it okay for people of the same sex to sleep together? And the teacher said: oh I don’t think we want to talk about that! Like it was just something completely unmentionable. But to their credit, a couple of my classmates piped up, which – and looking back, was just so brave of them – and they weren’t having it. They said no, we do want to talk about this, and if it’s a way of showing someone you love them, then, that’s a good thing. And I can remember being completely taken aback.

And then there were the teachers that didn’t give a shit, that were going to talk about it anyway. And were very clear that – there was a drama teacher who also took some of these personal, social and moral education lessons, and I think Section 28 came up specifically in one of those lessons, and he was just very clear and blunt and he clearly didn’t care, and he said this is the government’s way of stigmatising gay people. He was completely upfront. And I’m grateful to him for that, because it was the only positive message I heard from a teacher. The only one.  



Like there were some things after I came out as gay where it was just like… So I came out, and I was dating this girl, and then like we had some other friends who were gay as well and we went out with them sometimes. And then like one of them ended up in hospital because like they got herpes. And I realised that they ended up in hospital because we never got any sex education at school to keep us safe. And I was like, oh shit, that’s really, really bad. And then I went oh, well, that means that like all my friends, who are male and gay, didn’t get any information that stops them from dying of HIV/AIDS either. Because if we didn’t get told about herpes, they didn’t get told about that. And I thought, oh, that’s a lot worse, isn’t it.

And I wasn’t really paying attention to sex education when I was actually doing it, cause I couldn’t see how it applied to me, because it seemed to apply to people who were cis. And I just thought it was pointless me being there, because I was just like, what the fuck has this got to do with me? Like, why am I even here? Like – and then they were just talking about, like, straight people having sex. And it was just like, well, I’m not doing that.