Government must make LGBT+ relationships classes compulsory in all schools, teachers say

‘Why the hell should inclusive education be optional?’ teacher asks

Eleanor Busby
Education Correspondent
Tuesday 16 April 2019 22:06
Comments
Protests over LGBT lessons in Birmingham

The government must make classes on LGBT+ relationships compulsory in all primary schools, teachers have said.

Delegates at the National Education Union (NEU) conference have backed an urgent motion calling on the government to “strengthen” its guidance on relationships and sex education (RSE).

It came after months of protests outside the gates of primary schools in Birmingham over equality lessons – which teach about the existence of same-sex parents.

The demonstrators, many of them parents, argue that primary school children are too young to learn about LGBT+ issues.

Delegates at the NEU conference in Liverpool have called on the union to lobby the government to make teaching about LGBT+ relationships mandatory in primary and secondary schools.

Last month, MPs voted in favour of new LGBT+ inclusive regulations for compulsory RSE in English schools from September 2020.

The curriculum guidance, which has been updated for the first time in nearly two decades, expects secondary schools to teach students about LGBT+ content.

The Department for Education encourages primary schools to teach children about different families, including those with same-sex parents, but there is no specific requirement to do so.

Douglas Morgan, a teacher from Birmingham, said it was “wrong” that LGBT+ lessons are not already compulsory in primary schools.

He added: “Sats are not optional. Safeguarding is not optional. Why the hell should inclusive education be optional?”

The motion, which was backed by teachers on Tuesday, says many schools and communities currently feel “unsupported” over RSE lessons.

Annette Pryce, from the NEU executive, said she had heard of parent WhatsApp groups “naming” LGBT+ teachers and “questioning their fitness to teach”.

She added: “It is 2019 not 1987. We need to make sure we send the right message this time to our members, our government and our schools.”

The debate came after the headteacher of a school facing daily protests said staff had called the police repeatedly after feeling harassed during school pickup.

Sarah Hewitt-Clarkson, head of Anderton Park Primary School, said children have left in tears and staff have been “incredibly intimidated”.

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Meanwhile, Andrew Moffat, the teacher at the centre of a row over LGBT+ lessons, said last week that he had received a death threat following public backlash at his school.

Damian Hinds, education secretary, has said that reports of teachers feeling intimidated by parents protesting against LGBT+ classes were “very concerning”.

He added that consulting with families “does not provide a parental veto on curriculum content”.

A DfE spokesperson said: “We are making relationships education compulsory in all primary schools and relationships and sex education in all secondary schools from 2020. “These subjects will teach pupils the building blocks needed for positive and safe relationships of all kinds, starting with family and friends. The subjects will teach children, in an age appropriate way, about healthy relationships of all kinds and will help schools’ efforts to foster respect for other people and for difference.

“Pupils should receive teaching on LGBT relationships during their school years - we expect secondary schools to include LGBT content and primary schools are enabled and encouraged to cover this.”

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