Today we celebrate a great step forwards for LGBT inclusion in England’s schools.
We’re delighted the regulations for teaching Relationships Education and Relationships and Sex Education in England’s primary and secondary schools have passed safely through the House of Lords.
These new regulations mark a significant and welcome change to how pupils are taught about LGBT relationships and identities. It’s life-changing legislation that will give LGBT pupils the tools to make informed decisions about their relationships and their futures.
From September 2020 all secondary schools will be required to teach pupils about sexual orientation and gender identity, and all primary schools will be required to teach about different families, which can include LGBT families.
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 tackle the anti-LGBT bullying that remains widespread in our schools.
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.
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 of 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.
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 May we are holding our Stonewall Scotland Children and Young People’s Conference in Glasgow, and in July we are holding our new Stonewall Children and Young People Conference in London. These events will bring together hundreds of teachers, education professionals and young people to share best practice and drive forward LGBT inclusion throughout education.
The passing of this guidance is a landmark moment for LGBT equality in England’s schools that deserves to be celebrated. Now, let’s come together to make this teaching a reality, so every lesbian, gay, bi and trans pupil feels free to be themselves.