More than 50 members of religious organisations, campaigners and education leaders have signed an open letter asking the Department of Education (DfE) to support LGBT+ education in schools.
The open letter, published in The Guardian on Monday (February 11), references concerns that the government may allow independent schools to opt out of LGBT+ education.
“This poses a significant safeguarding risk to LGBT young people, who are still subject to significant levels of homophobic, biphobic, and transphobic bullying,” the 56 signatories said in the letter.
The letter expresses support for providing LGBT+ education in both primary and secondary schools to raise awareness about discrimination and prejudice.
The letter comes as a gay teacher who developed the No Outsiders project in 2014 to educate children about acceptance faced protests from a group of parents at his Birmingham school for teaching students about LGBT+ issues.
“LGBT people are members of all communities, across religions and non-religious worldviews.”
Andrew Moffat told the BBC he has received emails and threats related due to the LGBT+ education at Parkfield Community School, but has also felt supported by the local institutions.
“There are lots of people recognising that this work is important and that’s what you have to hold on to,” he said.
The letter’s signatories, who include faith leaders of various beliefs, also supported Moffat’s efforts to teach LGBT+ education at all types of schools.
“It’s important to recognise that being LGBT and having a religion are not mutually exclusive. LGBT people are members of all communities, across religions and non-religious worldviews,” the letter read.
It continued: “While it is possible for schools to consider issues from a range of religion or belief perspectives, fundamentally all schools, including those with a religious character, must provide lessons that inform young people of their rights, and promote a culture of inclusion and acceptance of diversity.”
Paediatricians support LGBT+ education in all schools
The 56 signatories are not alone in their advocacy for LGBT+ education. British paediatricians have expressed clear support for teaching about LGBT+ issues to all pupils, including primary school children, in their response to the DfE public consultation on changes to the Relationships Education and Relationship and Sex Education (RSE) curricula, which closed in November.
The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) advised not to shy away from teaching about sex education and LGBT+ issues, provided that educators address these topics in a “timely and developmentally-appropriate manner” for primary school pupils.
In May 2018, a 20-year-old man who was attacked by two teenagers on a London Underground train also called for compulsory LGBT+ education in schools.
“If it was made compulsory that children were taught about it… they could widen their knowledge and get a better understanding,” he told the Evening Standard.