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Academic Mark McGlashan wants to see more LGBT material made available for use in schools. (US Navy)

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Children as young as five should have more school books featuring same-sex parents, a Westminster, U.K., conference is set to hear next week.

Academic Mark McGlashan wants to see more LGBT material made available for use in schools. And he says research shows it may be beneficial to target children “in early years education.” A conference in Westminster, due to be attended by the Shadow Education Secretary Stephen Twigg, will discuss the issue next week.

Mark McGlashan, a researcher in the language, gender and sexuality group at Lancaster University, has been speaking ahead of the event. At the conference he intends to present work on current representations of same-sex-parent families in picture books.

He said the conference would “look at children’s literature as a means to challenge homophobic bullying and encourage inclusivity in schools. Part of that aim could include increasing the availability of LGBT literature to educators. The idea is that LGBT-inclusive literature could help schools address an issue that really is negatively impacting the lives of young people but the resources aren’t there—there just isn’t enough good literature available.”

Three teachers are understood to have faced disciplinary proceedings for raising objections to using gay activist material in schools. One teacher from South London is currently under investigation because she refused to teach a class that disagreeing with same-sex marriage is automatically homophobic.

A poll of teachers conducted earlier this year showed more than 40,000 teachers will probably refuse to teach about “the importance of” same-sex marriage. And 56 percent of teachers believe any colleague who takes such a stance risks damaging their career.

The government has refused to amend its same-sex marriage bill to give teachers reassurance that they won’t be disciplined for disagreeing with gay marriage.

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