Young people say no to political correctness
Under-18s taking part in a Hansard Society online debate thought that political correctness has gone too far. They felt that while young people should be taught to be tolerant and respectful, they should be able to talk about discrimination, race and religion without fearing that they are using the wrong vocabulary. They concluded that political correctness leads to uncertainty and threatens free speech.
The debate Discrimination in the UK – Fact or Fiction? ran from November 19 to December 7, 2007 at www.HeadsUp.org.uk. Parliamentarians and decision-makers from all political parties took part in the debate.
Young people taking part concluded:
- that racism was prevalent in some parts of society but a group of students felt that the broad threat of racism was less of an issue than religious discrimination or cultural awareness.
- that ageism badly affects young people as well as old. It was argued that young people are often not considered as much of a priority as old people when it comes to age discrimination.
- that schools should address their sexist policies on PE. In addition, participants did not believe that sexism had disappeared completely in the workplace as many reported that men still occupy a large proportion of top jobs in the UK.
- that political correctness has gone too far as it leads to uncertainty and threatens free speech.
Manager, commented: “The legislators taking part in this debate used the forum as a real engagement tool which they visited regularly, allowing them to question and inform young people about all aspects of animal cruelty policy The young participants appreciated this feedback and interaction .”Editors’ Notes
HeadsUp is a vital resource for teaching the political literacy element of the Citizenship Curriculum and ensuring young people’s voices are heard by decision-makers. In addition to the forum where school students explore and debate the political issues and ideas that matter to them, there are teachers’ notes, ideas for classroom activities and background information for young people all available on the HeadsUp website.
For more information contact Virginia Gibbons, Communications Manager at the Hansard Society on 0207 438 1225 or 07812 765 552.
This forum attracted the online involvement of a range of decision-makers, these included:
- Jo Swinson MP - Liberal Democrat Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities
- Baroness Prosser - Deputy chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission
- Anne Begg MP - Member interested in equality issues
- Mary Honeyball MEP - Member of the Committee on Culture and Education
- Margaret Mitchell MSP - Convener of the Equal Opportunities Committee
- Andrew Stunell MP - Member interested in equality issues
- Dr Katherine Rake - Director of the Fawcett Society
- Harriet Harman MP - Leader of the House of Commons and Minister for Women and Equality
HeadsUp (www.HeadsUp.org.uk) is an innovative website where under-18s debate political issues and processes. The site is a non-partisan, cross-party educational resource that provides a secure, structured and student-centred discussion platform.
Two ways to register to participate in HeadsUp:
- Young People - If you are under 18 and want to get involved you need to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, specifying your preferred username and password.
- Teachers - can register a whole class/school year/group by completing our online registration form.
All HeadsUp forums are open to view and follow the debate. Participants will still need to register or login to post comments.
The project is jointly funded by the Ministry of Justice (former DCA) and the House of Commons.
Young people who took part in this HeadsUp Forum are available for interview. However, this may take some time to arrange due to the busy academic calendar]. For more information contact Virginia Gibbons, Communications Manager at the Hansard Society on 0207 438 1225 or 07812 765 552.
At the end of the debate, a summary report detailing young people’s contributions will be distributed to relevant government ministers, MPs, AMs, MEPS, MSPs and all-party groups in Parliament.
Over 4000 individuals are currently registered with HeadsUp.