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Yvette Cooper pledges to introduce compulsory sex and relationship education

Nick Duffy August 20, 2015

Labour leadership hopeful Yvette Cooper has pledged to make sex and relationship education compulsory in all schools.

The Shadow Home Secretary, who is one of four candidates vying to be the next leader of the Labour Party, confirmed her plans in a five-point plan for women’s equality.

There have been several attempts in Parliament to introduce LGBT-inclusive statutory sex and relationship education, with Green MP Caroline Lucas recently submitting a backbench bill on the issue.

Labour was savaged by the Daily Mail when it announced similar plans prior to May’s election – which were branded ‘sex lessons at five under Labour’.

However, Ms Cooper pledged to “support compulsory sex and relationship education in all schools to combat rising violence in teenage relationships”.

She also pledged to “introduce a new Equalities Act”, which would “[give] the Equality and Human Rights Commission real teeth” to tackle equality issues, as well as “[introducing] new Commissioners to drive equality in specific areas”.

Ms Cooper previously made the case for compulsory SRE at the PinkNews Debate in May this year , clashing with the Conservative Leader of the House of Lords, Baroness Tina Stowell.

She said: “I am really appalled at the way the Government has dragged its feet on this because, when you see the levels of homophobic bullying in schools, the fact that you have some surveys showing almost half of young LGBT people self harming, when you have growing violence in teenage relationships, when you have teenagers exposed to on the internet all sorts of violent pornography and so on – the idea that we are not teaching all of our children respect in relationships, the idea that we are not making it compulsory in every school, I just think is so out of date, and I just think it is horrifying and irresponsible to be honest.

In a campaign speech in central London this week, Cooper said: “David Cameron won’t use the f-word. I will. I always have. I’m proud to be feminist. And I want Labour to be championing women’s equality again for the future.

“And for me, feminism is about equality for all. It’s not about expecting women to change and live men’s lives. Nor is it about excluding men, or dividing women from each other. My feminism will always be inclusive, positive, and about all of us not just some.

“It’s about changing our economy and society completely, so that both women and men have greater equality, greater opportunity and greater freedom. Putting family at the heart of our economy too – something we’ve never done before.”

She continued: “We need a much stronger radical vision of the future. Let’s put feminist and egalitarian principles at the heart of our economy and society, instead of treating them as an add on. That’s why I am launching this 5 point Equalities Plan today amongst so many women of the Labour movement.”

Ms Cooper is currently trailing left-wing MP Jeremy Corbyn, who is the runaway favourite to win the leadership, despite warnings from many of the party’s centrist figures.

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