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English schools will teach students of all ages about LGBTI relationships

English schools will teach students of all ages about LGBTI relationships

Gay dad with child

It will soon be compulsory for all English schools to teach their students about LGBTI people in relationship and sex education.

The new guidelines outlined by the UK government today (25 February) will create three new lessons in order to teach children and teenagers about everything from the dangers of sexting to spotting anxiety in friends. This updates the legislation originally passed in 2000 and will be implemented in September 2020.

Primary school children (age five to 11) will be taught relationships education, with secondary school students (11 – 16) given lessons in relationships and sex education. All ages will receive lessons in health.

Part of the relationship education lessons will include diverse families. This means children from the ages of 5 will be taught about the existence of same-sex parents and trans people.

Updated for modern life

Education Security Damian Hinds said: ‘Growing up and adolescence are hard enough, but the internet and social media add new pressures that just weren’t there even one generation ago.

‘So many things about the way people interact have changed, and this new world, seamless between online and offline, can be difficult to navigate.

‘Almost 20 years on from the last time guidance on sex education was updated, there is a lot to catch up on.’

One of the key focuses will also be online safety. For primary kids it will include chatting to strangers, trolling and what to do when they find something uncomfortable.

The focus for secondary school students will be sharing private photo and the impact of viewing explicit or harmful content.

Pupils will also be taught about female genital mutilation (FGM), raising awareness among young people and reminding them that it is illegal.

Students over the age of 11 will be taught about honor-based abuse, including grooming, forced marriage and domestic abuse.

Anger by parents

However, not everyone is happy with the reforms. A petition has reached  106,404 signatures asking to be allowed to opt their child out of relationship and sex education.

The petition reads: ‘We believe it is the parent’s fundamental right to teach their child RSE topics or to at least decide who teaches them and when and how they are taught. We want the right to opt our children out of RSE when it becomes mandatory in Sept 2020.’

Parliament will debate the petition on Monday. However, the government have already responded, pointing out parents already have the right to withdrawal as laid out in the guidance.

They said: ‘The draft guidance advises head teachers that parents can request that their child be withdrawn from sex education as part of RSE and unless there are exceptional circumstances, they should agree the parents’ request until 3 terms before the child turns 16.

‘At that point, if the child wishes to receive sex education, they should be provided with it in one of those three terms. In line with the current position, there will be no right to withdraw from sex education taught in the science national curriculum.’

The government also clarified that religious schools can include content that reflects their own teachings, as long as it complies with the Equality Act (2010).

See also: 

UK admits sex education failing young people in age of porn and sexting

In this UK city, new sex education lessons are a victory for trans rights

Colorado may soon ban abstinence-only sex education