Sadiq Khan pledges to promote trans issues in London schools as Mayor
Labour’s London Mayoral candidate has pledged to work with the city’s schools and the police to “promote gender diversity” and bolster acceptance of trans people.
Mr Khan is currently leading in the polls in his bid to succeed Boris Johnson as Mayor of London, ahead of Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith.
The pair will speak on LGBT issues at a Pride in London debate later this month, which is set to take place on Monday March 21.
Ahead of the event, Mr Khan has released a manifesto making a number of LGBT pledges and commitments.
In it, he champions inclusive sex and relationship education (SRE) in London schools – months after the government ruled out proposals to make SRE statutory.
Mr Khan wrote: “London should be a global beacon of tolerance, acceptance and respect. On the whole, Londoners reject sexism, racism, homophobia, and discrimination against people with disabilities. But I know there’s still much more to be done.
“I will work with the LGBT+ community, schools, police and others to highlight and challenge transphobia, which remains all too prevalent, and promote acceptance of gender diversity.”
It comes after Mr Goldsmith told PinkNews he supports the principle of inclusive sex education – but “struggles” on the issue of making it mandatory
He said: “On the one level, I want the outcome that good quality sex and relationship education provides for all the obvious reasons.
“But on another level, I’m very strongly supportive of the government’s free schools agenda, which allows parents to set the ethos and the direction of schools. I think it’s the right policy.”
He added: “I’m torn on the issue about mandating what schools would do because, for me, it goes against the grain and it’s something that I think the mayor – working with local authorities – should be able to identify and target areas and schools where that approach doesn’t work.”
However, Mr Goldsmith said that it would “cross a line” for schools to teach that gay people would go to hell.
He said: I mean it’s not for me to accept or not, but I find it unacceptable that schools should be racially divisive, or religiously divisive or ethically divisive or sexually divisive. Anything that pips one part of the community against the other for me crosses the line.”
Elsewhere in the manifesto, Mr Khan pledged further action to tack hate crime in the city and tackle divisions between communities and the police.
The Labour candidate said: “Too many communities and individual Londoners view the police with suspicion. This makes people within those communities less likely to report crimes or pass on information about gangs, or identify those who spread hatred or extremism.
“We can do more to build better relations between communities and the police, ensuring bonds of trust are developed.
“I will direct the Met to adopt a strict zero tolerance approach to hate crime – be it on the basis of someone’s age, sexuality, gender, religion, race, nationality or disability – and ensure officers have the resources and training they need.
“In particular I will challenge the appalling increase in homophobic, anti-Semitic, and Islamophobic hate crimes.”
He added: “London’s prosperity is founded on its openness, its spirit of innovation, and its proud history of offering opportunity to people from all backgrounds.”
Both of the lead candidates have signed the Pride in London pledge on LGBT rights, along with Liberal Democrat candidate Caroline Pidgeon and Green Party candidate Sian Berry.
UKIP candidate Peter Whittle, who is openly gay but has not yet signed the Pride pledge, will attend the debate alongside the four.
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Respect’s George Galloway and other minor candidates are not confirmed to be taking part.
ITV Political Correspondent Paul Brand will chair the debate, adding: “The LGBT+ community is a significant sector of the London electorate – perhaps more so than in any other part of the UK.
“Our votes matter just as much as anyone else’s, and I look forward to asking the candidates the questions that voters want answered, so that we can hear what each of them has to offer.”
Stephen Ward of Pride in London said: “Growing numbers of London’s politicians, including the Labour and Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Green Party candidates for mayor, have signed our Pledge which calls for specific actions to be taken in the key areas of health, personal safety and equal treatment to improve life for LGBT+ Londoners.
“This hustings will give the LGBT+ community a chance to grill each of the main candidates on issues specific to the LGBT+ community and others that are important to all Londoners.
“This is a key plank of Pride in London’s mission to provide a platform for the LGBT+ community to make its voices heard.”