LGBT education has been in the news recently following protests from adults who believe it should not be taught to children in primary school. Unfortunately, this debate led one Birmingham school to halt this important education until the issues are resolved.
Fortunately, MPs have recently voted to make relationships and sex education (RSE), including LGBT education compulsory from September 2020, which means that children across Britain will be receiving LGBT education. It’s about damn time.
The RSE being made compulsory will see primary school children being taught about different families, including those with LGBT parents, and secondary school children being taught about sexual orientation and gender identity. Modern day Britain is becoming increasingly diverse, which is a thing to celebrate, and so RSE is important in teaching children that not everybody has to follow the same ‘conventional’ pattern with regards to sex and relationships, and to teach them to understand and accept such differences in society. It's important to tell Ronan that Poppy in his class has two mummy's or two daddy's and importantly, that it is normal.
Children need to learn about LGBT issues and relationships to encourage greater inclusion, acceptance and understanding of differences and diversity in society. We like to call this peace. The teaching of peace. Homophobia and discrimination have no place in society today, yet nearly half of LGBT students say they are being bullied. LGBT Education is primary school is not about how two women or two men have sex, so let's get that out of the way.
Education around LGBT issues aims to challenge homophobic bullying and discrimination and is a key asset in encouraging future generations to be more welcoming to people regardless of their identity or sexual orientation.
"Nearly half of LGBT students admit to being bullied".
In addition to having a greater understanding and acceptance of others, children need to have a greater understanding and acceptance of themselves. Sexual orientation and gender identity issues are happening at a young age, with an increasing number of children aged 10 and under being referred to NHS support services for transgender feelings. By providing them with education on LGBT issues and relationships from an early age, they are given the knowledge they need to begin to understand who they are.
The protests which halted an LGBT programme in a Birmingham school argued that these teachings went against their beliefs and were not age-appropriate. It really is important to listen and understand everybody's views, and talk this out. By explaining that teaching LGBT is about teaching acceptance and inclusion, we should be able to get everyone on side. Beleifs are important but should we really have to choose between beliefs and identity? The two are, after all, often intertwined. Sexual orientation and gender identity are ever present and don’t conform to people’s beliefs, which can sometimes leave people conflicted and struggling to accept who they are. Children need to receive LGBT education so that those facing difficulties with their identity are supported by those around them and are shown that there’s nothing wrong about being yourself.
"Should we really have to choose between beliefs and identity?"
Education is about giving children and young people the tools they need to thrive in later life and depriving them of any social teachings is not appropriate for modern day Britain. Sex, race, religion, gender and disability – they are all undergoing changes in acceptance and inclusion. It would be a shame to limit this progress by limiting our teachings.