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Education

Children should learn about ‘stable and healthy same-sex relationships’, guidance says

Nick Duffy June 26, 2019
Books used as part of LGBT+ inclusive education lessons to teach about same-sex relationships

Books used as part of LGBT+ inclusive education lessons to teach about same-sex relationships

Government guidance for relationships and sex education says children should learn about “stable and healthy” examples of same-sex relationships.

The finalised guidance was published on Tuesday (June 25) for relationships and sex education, which will become be mandatory from September 2020 in schools in England.

The guidance, which comes amid continued unrest at teaching over LGBT+ issues, makes clear that all pupils “should be taught the facts and the law about sex, sexuality, sexual health and gender identity in an age-appropriate and inclusive way.”

Children should learn about healthy same-sex relationships

It adds: “All pupils should feel that the content is relevant to them and their developing sexuality.

“Sexual orientation and gender identity should be explored at a timely point and in a clear, sensitive and respectful manner.

“When teaching about these topics, it must be recognised that young people may be discovering or understanding their sexual orientation or gender identity.

“There should be an equal opportunity to explore the features of stable and healthy same-sex relationships.

“This should be integrated appropriately into the RSE programme, rather than addressed separately or in only one lesson.”

Parents and protestors demonstrate against the 'No Outsiders' programme, which teaches children about LGBT rights in Birmingham, England
Parents and protesters demonstrate against the ‘No Outsiders’ programme, which teaches children about LGBT rights in Birmingham, England (Christopher Furlong/Getty)

The guidance acknowledges that people will have “a range of opinions,” but makes clear: “The starting principle when teaching each of these must be that the applicable law should be taught in a factual way so that pupils are clear on their rights and responsibilities as citizens.”

The document does provide leeway for schools ”to explore faith, or other perspectives, on some of these issues in other subjects such as Religious Education.”

Education Secretary: Guidance ‘clear’ about same-sex relationships

In a release, Education Secretary Damian Hinds said: “Our new guidance is clear that children should leave school having learnt about LGBT relationships.

“Children will of course find out about all sorts of things, including the diversity of our society, anyway – the question is where and how is it best to do so – in class, on the internet, or in the playground.

“I would strongly encourage schools to discuss with children in class that there are all sorts of different, strong and loving families, including families with same-sex parents, while they are at primary school.

“There is no reason why teaching children about the society that we live in and the different types of loving, healthy relationships that exist cannot be done in a way that respects everyone.”

Stonewall chief executive Ruth Hunt praised the guidance as “a real, positive step forward for LGBT inclusion in England’s schools.”

She added: “Teaching about the diversity that exists in the world means children from all families feel included and helps every child and young person understand that LGBT people are part of normal, everyday life.”

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers said: “The Secretary of State has now made it abundantly clear that it is appropriate to teach primary-age children that there are different kinds of relationships, and that not every family is the same.”

He added: “We agree that diversity and equality are a matter of fact and a matter of law and learning about equality and diversity is not optional.”

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