Today we celebrate a great step forwards for LGBT inclusion in England’s schools.
Yesterday afternoon, the Government published the final draft guidance for teaching Relationships Education in primary schools, and Relationships and Sex Education in secondary schools.
From September 2020 onwards, all primary schools in England will be required to teach about different families, which can include LGBT families. And at secondary level, all schools in England will be required to teach about sexual orientation and gender identity.
This teaching is hugely important. In primary schools, teaching about LGBT families ensures that children from LGBT families see themselves reflected in what they learn.
It also helps all young people grow up knowing that there’s absolutely nothing wrong or unusual about being LGBT – helping to prevent the anti-LGBT bullying that remains widespread in our schools.
And through building on this work at secondary level, schools can help all young people, including LGBT young people, make informed decisions, have healthy relationships and grow up feeling proud of who they are.
By highlighting the need for LGBT-inclusive teaching, this guidance has the potential to drive forward a step-change in the way LGBT people and relationships are taught about in every school in England.
Now, to make this a reality, it’s vital that the Government sufficiently invests in training and resources for teachers to give them the knowledge and confidence they need.
We hope to see LGBT inclusion strengthened further when the guidance is next updated in 2022
And looking ahead, building on the good practice of the hundreds of schools we work with across the country, we hope to see LGBT inclusion strengthened further when the guidance is next updated in 2022.
More than thirty years on from the introduction from Section 28, this announcement shows just how far we’ve come.
It stands as a testament to the work of our founders, who set up Stonewall in response to that damaging piece of legislation which made LGBT people invisible in our classrooms for so many years.
It stands as a testament to the tireless work of schools, local authorities and third sector organisations who have spent the last three decades campaigning for compulsory Relationships and Sex Education, and to the Government, backed by cross-party support, who have introduced it.
And it stands as a testament to the efforts of thousands of young people, teachers and parents who called for LGBT-inclusive Relationships and Sex Education in the recent consultation on the guidance.
We know many LGBT young people still face significant challenges in our schools.
But while real progress has been made, we know many LGBT young people still face significant challenges in our schools. Our School Report (2017) found that nearly half of LGBT pupils are bullied for being LGBT in secondary school, and more than half say there isn’t an adult at school they can talk to about being LGBT.
We are turning the tide, but we need to increase our efforts. With our School Champions programme, we support over a thousand primary and secondary schools across Britain to deliver LGBT-inclusive teaching and proactively tackle anti-LGBT bullying. Through our new Children and Young People Services programme, we’re supporting local authorities across the country to drive forward LGBT inclusion in all the services they deliver and oversee.
This year’s LGBT History Month, founded by Schools OUT in 2005, is a focal point of awareness-raising activities in our schools. And this July we are holding our new Stonewall Children and Young People Conference in London, which will bring together hundreds of teachers, education professionals and young people to share best practice and drive forward LGBT inclusion throughout education.
This guidance has the potential to make this good practice the norm in England’s schools – now we need to come together to make this a reality.