The Prime Minister has called for an end to homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying in schools, saying all pupils have a right to feel safe.
In a video uploaded to Facebook, Theresa May said she was proud to support School Diversity Week, a celebration of LGBT+ equality in schools which will take place across the UK during the first week of July.
“Everyone has a right to feel safe and happy at school but when you are coming to terms with your sexuality the classroom, the playground and the common room can sometimes be intimidating places,” May said.
“Having visible role models who have been there before and know how it feels, can help give a young person the confidence to embrace who they are and they can encourage everyone in school to be positive and accepting.”
She went on to congratulate LGBT+ campaigners and the charity Just Like Us, which launched School Diversity Week, but said there was more to be done to achieve equality.
“We need to eradicate homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying in schools, and challenge stigma and hostility wherever it exists in our society and we need to speak up for the human rights of LGBT people around the world,” May said.
The Prime Minister’s comments come 30 years after a Conservative government introduced a ban on LGBT+ issues being discussed in schools in the UK.
Section 28, which was introduced in the Local Government Act of 1988 by Margaret Thatcher, forbade schools “promoting the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship.”
The Prime Minister’s comments on LGBT+ equality in schools this week mirror remarks she made last year.
In October 2017, May vowed to make sex ed LGBT-inclusive in a speech at the PinkNews Awards.
“We need to keep up our action, so we are pressing ahead with inclusive relationship and sex education in English schools, making sure that LGBT issues are taught well,” she said.
“We’re determined to eradicate homophobic and transphobic bullying.”
Of the more than 150,000 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender pupils in UK secondary schools, around 25 percent attempt suicide, around half self-harm and nearly all – 96 percent – hear homophobic remarks, according to Just Like Us.