A proposal by the National Union of Teachers (NUT) to make pre-school children more aware of gay relationships has received a mixed reaction in the gay community.
The issue was raised last week by the NUT in its submission to The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) consultation from the Department for Education and Skills on policies regarding pre-school children up to 5 years old.
It suggested that nurseries must play their part in challenging homophobia from an early age amongst pupils
Peter Tatchell from gay rights group Outrage told PinkNews.co.uk: “It’s obvious that young children should be taught about relationship diversity from an early age in order to combat prejudice and promote understanding.
“Providing the information is age appropriate I don’t see why this shouldn’t start in pre-school.
“The sooner the education system stops homophobia, racism and other prejudices, the sooner we all move forward together towards a more civilised passionate society.”
A spokesperson from the Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association supported this view, he told PinkNews.co.uk: “We absolutely support this but share some concern that they are starting too soon, teaching about sex in any form to 3 year olds is a bit much.
“Children should be made aware of gay relationships in a more positive way, there is a lot of homophobia in the playground where ‘gay’ is the ultimate insult.”
Ben Summerskill from gay charity Stonewall, who recently launched the Spell it Out campaign to help teachers tackle homophobic bullying in schools, said it is an important issue but not necessarily something to dedicate a whole class to, “Clearly teachers at every level should be prepared to deal appropriately with enquiries from children.
“But to classify this as sex education is daft.”
Shadow Secretary of State for Education, David Willetts, suggested that this information could be provided in other ways, he told PinkNews.co.uk: “No child should be discriminated against and it is vital that all children respect each other regardless of family background.
“But good general pastoral care at school and good parenting should achieve this. We are in danger of asking education to do too much if we start imposing detailed requirements, especially in the pre-school years.”
A spokesman for the DfES said the Early Years Foundation Stage consultation document promotes a broad “tolerance of other views” and is not specific about same-sex relationships.
He said: “The framework encourages tolerances of other views which is much broader than the comments from the NUT. It doesn’t mention same-sex families but encourages the development of understanding and tolerance of other people regardless of their background or culture.”