Children in UK schools will be taught about transphobic bullying and gender equality, it was announced yesterday.

As part of the revised personal, social and health education (PSHE) plans, the lessons will be taught from age five, although ministers stressed this would be age-appropriate.

Schools minister Vernon Coaker said: “The appropriateness of what you do with someone who is five years old is totally different in terms of content and how you will be taught to someone who is 15 or 16.

“You can teach [younger pupils] about not bullying people and how names can hurt people.”

The lessons, which also include teaching about gay relationships and HIV, will begin in 2011.

Professor Stephen Whittle, president of trans group Press For Change, told Metro: “We welcome wholeheartedly this move. When children are stifled through bullying they are more likely to feel gender reassignment is their only option later in life.”

The plans, launched by the Home Office and Department for Children, Schools and Families, will also combat violence in teenage relationships. An NSPCC study found that a quarter of girls had been subjected to violence by boyfriends and one third reported being forced into sexual activity.

Teachers will be given new guidelines on tackling sexist, sexual and transphobic bullying.

All schools, including faith schools, will be required to teach the new PSHE curriculum, although faith schools will be permitted to teach lessons in line with their beliefs.

Parents will retain the right to withdraw their children from the classes but only up to age 15, rather than the current age of 19.