United Nations committee: UK schools should teach all children about LGBT people
The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child has published a children’s rights review of the UK – and it calls for more consistent sex and relationship education.
The UK government dismissed a report earlier this year calling for LGBT-inclusive sex and relationship education to be made statutory in all schools.
It was rumoured at the time that Downing Street had intervened to prevent Education Secretary Nicky Morgan from making reform on the issue.
Today the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child recommended that the government think again.
The committee’s report notes: “Relationships and sexuality education is not mandatory in all schools, its contents and quality varies depending on the school, and LGBT children do not have access to accurate information on their sexuality.
“The Committee recommends that the State party ensure that meaningful sexual and reproductive health education is part of the mandatory school curriculum for all schools, including academies, special schools and youth detention centres, in all areas of the State party.
“Such education should provide age-appropriate information on: confidential sexual and reproductive health-care services; contraceptives; prevention of sexual abuse or exploitation, including sexual bullying; available support in cases of such abuse and exploitation; and sexuality, including that of LGBT children’.”
Nicky Morgan denied in a PinkNews interview last month that she has a ‘contrary view’ from the Prime Minister on sex education – but added: “I think we shouldn’t be frightened about talking about sex and relationship education – and I do mean relationships, as the debate often gets focussed on sex.”
It also raised concerns with the practice of mandatory religious worship in schools.
A statement said: “The Committee is concerned that pupils are required by law to take part in a daily religious worship which is ‘wholly or mainly of a broadly Christian character’ in publicly funded schools in England and Wales, and that children do not have the right to withdraw from such worship without parental permission before entering the sixth form.
“The Committee recommends that the State party repeal legal provisions for compulsory attendance at collective worship in publicly funded schools and ensure that children can independently exercise the right to withdraw from religious worship at school.”
Pavan Dhaliwal of the British Humanist Association: “The UK state fails its young people in far too many ways today.
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“Almost uniquely among economically developed countries, it segregates them in schools along religious lines.
“Completely uniquely it forces them to attend proselytising Christian worship even when it is against their wishes.
“It denies them the full and comprehensive sex and relationships education that the evidence shows they need, to lead to better outcomes in terms of sexual and reproductive health. And in Northern Ireland it denies them and others access to abortion services.”
Elsewhere, the report warns against ‘damaging’ surgeries on intersex children – a practise that Malta became the first country to outlaw last year.
The statement said: “The Committee is concerned at cases of medically unnecessary surgeries and other procedures on intersex children before they are able to provide their informed consent, which often entail irreversible consequences and can cause severe physical and psychological suffering, and the lack of redress and compensation in such cases.
“The Committee recommends that the State party: Ensure that no one is subjected to unnecessary medical or surgical treatment during infancy or childhood, guarantee bodily integrity, autonomy and self-determination to children concerned, and provide families with intersex children with adequate counselling and support.”