Lib Dem minister condemns ex-teachers’ leader for linking LGBT groups with paedophilia

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UK minister Lynne Featherstone has denounced the former chairman of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference, after he described a north London school’s decision to set up an LGBT club as “macabre”.

In a letter published by The Times on 17 May, Patrick Tobin, former chairman of HMC, criticised Highgate School in north London, which is a member of HMC, for launching the club.

He said: “It is macabre that, when society is unprecedentedly alert to paedophilia, a school should be encouraging its teachers to discuss with pupils their own and their pupils’ sexuality.”

Mr Tobin also said it was a “myth” that people can be born gay.

He wrote: “Underlying this issue is the myth that one is born gay or heterosexual. Parents of a girl where I was chairman of governors were deeply saddened that their daughter was in a lesbian relationship and asked the school to intervene. The wise headmistress said that she could not do so. Two years after school both girls were heterosexual.”

Liberal Democrat MP Lynne Featherstone, whose Hornsey and Wood Green constituency includes Highgate School, branded Mr Tobin’s remarks “ludicrous and offensive”.

The International Development Minister and former equalities minister told “I’m really pleased that Highgate School is helping its LGBT students feel more comfortable. It is really important that all schools tackle the menace of homophobic bullying.”

“Quite frankly the suggestion from the former head of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference that this could put children at risk of paedophilia is ludicrous and offensive. Far from banning LGBT groups in schools, we should be encouraging more schools to be so welcoming.”

Mr Tobin spent more than 17 years as a headmaster and principal at Prior Park College in Bath and at Erskine Stewart’s Melville School in Edinburgh.

He recently retired as an administrator at HMC and was responsible for helping to organise scholarships for over 400 students from Central & Eastern Europe at UK boarding schools.

However, he remains an honorary associate and member of the organisation.

In a statement from HMC, the association said to “These are the personal views of Patrick Tobin and in no way reflect the views of HMC.”