Standard Responses

Buffer zones around abortion clinics

Thank you for getting in touch with me about buffer zones around abortion clinics.

I understand that the Scottish Government is currently considering taking forward legislation to introduce anti-protest or buffer zones around abortion clinics. Gillian Mackay has also said that she will bring forward a Member’s Bill on this issue if the government does not do so.

Abortion clinics are an essential legal medical service. No women should feel that they are being stigmatised against and discouraged from accessing abortion services.

As such, I will engage constructively with any proposals that are brought forward by either the government or an individual MSP to enhance protections for women who are accessing these services.

While I acknowledge that there is a right to protest, this must not come at the expense of women’s health and their right to access medical services free of prejudice.

 

Political bias in the classroom

Thank you for contacting me regarding the political bias in the classroom.

The Scottish Conservatives fully support unbiased political education in our schools. Our pupils are the future of our country, so it is critical that they gain a solid understanding of a wide range of political beliefs and current issues.

Teachers have an obligation to be objective and professional when distributing information, with the purpose of stimulating discussion and independent thought.  Pupils must be exposed to all sides of an argument in order to have a well-formed opinion and to further develop their own ideas, but at no time should that cross over into the expression of politically partisan opinions where they are held by any individual teacher.

Unfortunately, pro-SNP material seeping into our classrooms is not a new trend. Recently, an S1 Modern Studies class was given a 34-page booklet and urged to come to their own conclusions about issues including independence. This contained 16 pictures of the First Minister and other SNP politicians and shows two completed ballot papers with the boxes ticked for pro-independence parties. There was only one picture of a Labour MSP and logo, and no mention of the Scottish Conservatives. On another occasion, an S3 Modern Studies class, were asked to compile a list of Nicola Sturgeon’s ‘important policies.’ Pupils were given ‘useful’ links, one of which goes to the SNP’s website. After listing the achievements, it concludes: ‘If you haven’t yet, join the SNP today to help secure independence…’ However, the SNP Government seem unconcerned about addressing the problem.

Parents should have the opportunity to raise with the headteacher any concerns they have over perceived bias.