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Pretended: Schools and Section 28

On sale

3rd February 2023

Price: £17

Selected:  Paperback / ISBN-13: 9781915261694

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Pretended is a vivid historical, political and cultural account of schools and teaching under Section 28, a law that banned schools in the UK from promoting homosexuality as a ‘pretended family relationship’.

Catherine Lee was a teacher in schools for each of the 15 years that Section 28 was law (between 1988 and 2003). In Pretended, she considers the landscape for lesbian and gay teachers leading up to, during and after Section 28. Drawing on her diary entries from the Section 28 era, Lee poignantly recalls the challenges and incidents affecting her and thousands of other teachers during this period of state-sanctioned homophobia. She reveals how these diaries led to her involvement in the 2022 feature film Blue Jean, and describes how this unexpected opportunity helped her to make peace with Section 28.

Pretended will resonate with every lesbian and gay teacher who experienced Section 28 and will shock those who previously knew nothing about this law. Crucially, Pretended will explain to those who were lesbian and gay students during Section 28 why they never saw people like them in the curriculum, never had a role model and never had an adult in school to talk to about their identity.


Georgia Oakley, writer and director of Blue Jean
This book is a vital, compelling account of the compounded shame and fear propagated by Section 28. A searing exploration of structural homophobia, absolutely necessary for anyone whose life was touched by this horrific legislation.
Jo Brassington and Dr Adam Brett, Pride and Progress
Pretended is a necessary political, social and cultural history of Section 28 and its impact on our educational spaces. In sharing her own story, Catherine Lee amplifies the experiences of all the gay and lesbian educators silenced by Section 28, and offers greater understanding to the generations of young people who were cheated out of a sound start in life because of the silence and shame the legislation planted in our schools. A brilliant book on our history, which teaches us important lessons for our future as we continue to reimagine our educational spaces as more LGBTQ+ inclusive.