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MPs call for stronger backing on LGBT-inclusive lessons

Emma Powys Maurice July 9, 2019

Protestors outside the Birmingham school at the centre of the LGBT teaching row (Huffpost)

Nearly 70 MPs have signed a letter to the Education Secretary, Damian Hinds, calling for the government to give clearer support to schools on teaching about same-sex relationships.

The BBC learned that the group of MPs wants Hinds to go further in outlining the government’s position, saying that although they welcomed his former statement encouraging schools to discuss “different” types of families, it “does not go far enough.”

They write: “We ask you to provide absolute clarity in regard to relationships education in primary schools, which must be inclusive of all protected characteristics, and treat the different types of relationships in our society equally.”

The letter was written by Labour MPs Emma Hardy and Jack Dromey, and signed by MPs from across the political spectrum, including some members of the House of Lords — although the BBC does not list their names.

LGBT-inclusive education is “a legal requirement” and “not a choice”

The letter follows an ongoing row at schools in Birmingham, where parents and religious leaders are protesting an LGBT-inclusive teaching programme called No Outsiders.

It is taught in more than 100 English primary schools and includes stories about same-sex families. But protestors claim this is contrary to their religious values.

The MPs say it is “unacceptable” that Anderton Park primary school was forced to close early due to a mass demonstration, and seek a High Court injunction and exclusion zone “due to nationally co-ordinated protests.”

“We urge you to make it clear that schools have an obligation to teach about same-sex relationships in primary schools,” the MPs write, adding that relationship education is “not a choice… it is a legal requirement.”

The MPs blame “misinformation over the content” of the LGBT+ teaching, as well as “a belief that it is individual head teachers making choices to teach such content” for fuelling the disagreement.

Mother outside Anderton Park school
Protesters outside Anderton Park primary school

Government guidance says schools are “free to determine” how they deliver LGBT-inclusive lessons

In April and in June, Hinds issued statements in support of LGBT-inclusive lessons, but stopped short of saying that they “must” be taught.

He announced the introduction of compulsory relationships and sex education (RSE) in state-funded schools from September 2020.

He “strongly encourage[s]” schools to teach about same-sex families, but the official government guidance says schools are “free to determine” how and when they deliver this education.

Hinds said: “A wide range of views were expressed during the public consultation, and I believe the guidance strikes the right balance. Our new guidance is clear that children should leave school having learnt about LGBT relationships, and I strongly encourage primary schools to teach about different types of family, including families with same-sex parents.

“I have been clear that protesting outside schools is unacceptable. No child should have to walk past a protest to attend school; neither should any teacher. We want dialogue and consultation with parents, but that does not constitute a veto; I support headteachers to make decisions about the curriculum, including ahead of the introduction of these new subjects.”

 

 

 

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