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Government measure on SRE will help LGBT young people

Today’s announcement from Education Secretary, Rt Hon Justine Greening MP, is ground-breaking. 

It will mean that for the first time all children in England will receive effective and age-appropriate relationships and sex education.

This is a huge step forward and a fantastic opportunity to improve inclusion and acceptance in education.

Currently over half of secondary school students say they never have any discussion of LGBT relationships in their lessons, and over half of lesbian, gay, bi and trans young people are bullied in our schools because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. That is unacceptable.

By mandating all schools to provide good quality, age-appropriate relationships and sex education the Government has paved the way to change that situation.

This should mean that all schools provide the space to discuss LGBT relationships and the issues LGBT people face, enabling more lesbian, gay, bi and trans young people to feel accepted in their school environment.

This truly is ground-breaking. It will help transform the experience many thousands of LGBT young people have at school.

We look forward to working with the Government on updating the guidance for schools to ensure that this measure helps to transform the experience of LGBT young people in all schools.

Currently only local authority controlled secondary schools in England must provide sex education and it can be limited in scope to the biology of sex.

Although many schools go well beyond this, the Education Secretary’s amendment to Children and Social Work Bill will mean all schools must provide lessons covering a full range of issues, including maintaining safety when developing relationships, dealing with issues that young people face like sexting and online pornography, and discussion about what makes a healthy relationship.

Given schools’ duties under the Equality Act 2010, it is also vital that relationships and sex education includes discussion of LGBT relationships, and the issues that LGBT young people face within those lessons.

Stonewall will be working with the Government to ensure that is reflected in updated guidance for schools.

Stonewall already works with over a thousand schools, including hundreds of faith schools, across the UK to help them stamp out bullying of lesbian, gay, bi and trans young people, and ensure their lessons include discussion of LGBT relationships and issues.

The faith schools we work with already show how LGBT inclusive relationships and sex education can be provided whilst respecting the faith character of the school. Stonewall looks forward to working with many more faith schools to spread this best practice and ensure LGBT young people in all schools learn in an open and welcoming environment.

The Government’s move will also mean that for the first time all Academies, Free Schools and independent schools must provide sex and relationships education, and vitally primary schools will provide age-appropriate lessons about relationships to younger children, ensuring they learn about these issues in a supportive environment rather than from the internet as is increasingly the case.

That will mean that younger children can develop their knowledge and understanding of relationships in an inclusive way, including the fact that people come from many different types of families. 

The Government need to develop guidance on how this will be implemented. We will work closely with them to ensure it delivers what this announcement promises: fully inclusive relationships and sex education in all schools.

It means that by 2019, we should see all schools moving to a place where LGBT relationships and the issues LGBT people face are discussed openly, enabling more LGBT young people to feel accepted in their school environment.

This truly is ground-breaking. It will help transform the experience many thousands of LGBT young people have at school.