There’s nothing wrong with teaching kids that LGBT+ people deserve fair treatment – it’s time the government recognised that

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Sunday 14 July 2019 15:28 BST
Birmingham teacher Andrew Moffat shortlisted for Global Teacher Prize

We are writing to express our concern at the lack of government support for schools undertaking their legal duties under the Equality Act to promote equality and acceptance between people of different protected characteristics.

We urge that robust backing be given in this vital area. We are particularly concerned at the problems some schools and teachers are currently experiencing regarding the promotion of LGBT+ inclusion.

This is currently highlighted by the nature and extent of the organised opposition to some schools' provision of the “No Outsiders” programme. The programme advances inclusion on a variety of grounds, but its provision has triggered orchestrated opposition (inflamed and exploited by outside groups) for simply seeking to teach that LGBT+ people exist and that acceptance of them should be encouraged. Opportunities to provide these and other schools with greater support have been missed and government guidance has been weakly ambiguous at best.

For example, recent advice regarding relationships and sex education (which will become compulsory in all schools in 2020) states that schools are "enabled and encouraged to cover LGBT content [but] if they consider it age appropriate to do so". The phrase “age appropriate” is open to wide interpretation, and is repeated in new guidance for independent schools on meeting their obligation to promote respect between people of different protected characteristics. Statements such as these, combined with half-hearted support for schools that are being attacked, has left many teachers exposed.

The requirement for schools to promote inclusivity between people of different characteristics is a vital part of our society's equality and human rights framework, and helps us to forge a better society in which all may fully contribute. An attack on this framework is ultimately an attack on us all. The government must therefore give schools greater moral and regulatory support in advancing these important duties.

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, chair, British Muslims for Secular Democracy

The Revd Stephen Terry, chair of the Accord Coalition for Inclusive Education

Ruby Almeida, chair of Quest (Pastoral Support for LGBT Catholics)

Christina Baron, General Synod (Bath & Wells) and chair of the General Synod Human Sexuality Group

Iain Dale, broadcaster and political commentator

Dr Maria Exall, chair of the Trades Union Congress LGBT+ Committee

Professor Becky Francis, director, UCL Institute of Education

Rev Ian Howarth, chair of Birmingham Methodist District

Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, senior rabbi to Reform Judaism

Professor Sir David King FRS, academic and policy advisor, including former chief scientific advisor to HM government

Dr Omar Khan, director, Runnymede Trust

The Venerable Peter Leonard, Archdeacon of the Isle of Wight and Chair, OneBodyOneFaith

Rabbi Margaret Jacobi (Birmingham Synagogue)

Dr Farid Panjwani, associate professor in Religious Education and director, Centre for Research and Evaluation in Muslim Education (CREME)

Philip Pullman CBE, novelist

Khakan Qureshi, founder, Finding A Voice

Professor Alice Roberts, biological anthropologist, author, broadcaster and president of Humanists UK

Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain MBE, president of the Accord Coalition for Inclusive Education and minister of Maidenhead Synagogue

Polly Toynbee, journalist and writer

Luke Tryl, director, New Schools Network

The Rt Rev Dr Alan Wilson, Bishop of Buckingham

Elizabeth Arif Fear, founder of Voice of Salaam

Revd Richard Adfield (CofE)

Jeff Beatty, Quaker Values in Education Steering Group member

Crispin Blunt MP

John Bolt, General secretary, Socialist Educational Association

Professor Ted Cantle CBE, chair of the iCoCo Foundation and national community cohesion and inter-cultural relations expert

Revd Roger Cornish (United Reformed Church)

Revd Jim Corrigall, Unitarian and Free Christian minister

Drew Dalton, founder of Report OUT

Shaun Dellenty, founder of Inclusion For All

Revd Marie Dove (Methodist)

Graeme Duncan, chief executive, Right to Succeed

Jonathan Emmett, children's author

Revd Canon Richard Franklin (CofE)

Revd Canon Jane Fraser (CofE), manager of the relationships and sex education charity Bodysense

The Rt Rev David Gillett, former Anglican Bishop of Bolton

Professor A.C. Grayling, philosopher and author

Andy Gregg, chief executive officer of ROTA (Race on the Agenda)

Baroness Harris of Richmond

Savitri Hensman (CofE), equalities adviser in the care sector and writer on Christian social ethics and theology

Ruth Hilton, chair of JAT

Sunny Hundal, journalist and editor

Mark Jennett, sexuality and gender equality in schools specialist

The Very Revd Jeffrey John, dean of St Albans

Revd Richard Jones, associate minister, Hereford Diocese

Professor Steve Jones, geneticist, science writer and broadcaster

Revd Richard Kirker (CofE), LGBTI equality campaigner

Hari Kunzru, novelist and journalist

Revd Anne Lewitt, minister at the Pulborough URC

Naomi Long MLA MEP, leader of the Alliance Party

Matt Mahmood-Ogston, founder and trustee, Naz and Matt Foundation

Dr Irfan Malik, researcher of the Muslim contribution in the First World War

Melian Mansfield, chair, Campaign for State Education

Loic Menzies, chief executive of the Education and Youth ‘think and action-tank’ LKMco

Revd Iain McDonald (United Reformed Church)

Fiona Millar, journalist and education campaigner

Rabia Mirza, Director, British Muslims for Secular Democracy

Dr Zemirah Moffat, Quaker Gender and Sexual Diversity Community

The Very Revd Bertrand Olivier (Anglican)

Brian Pearce, former chair of the Buddhist Council of Wales and Buddhist Chaplain to prisons in Wales

Martin Pendergast, Centre for the Study of Christianity & Sexuality

Revd Tim Richards (United Reformed Church) Mid Somerset Group

Revd Prof. Christopher Rowland, Dean Ireland’s professor of the Exegesis of Holy Scripture Emeritus, University of Oxford

Dr Artemi Sakellariadis, director of the Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education

Professor Sue Sanders, chair, SCHOOLS OUT UK

Elizabeth Slade, chief officer, General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches

Prof Lord Trevor Smith of Clifton, academic and former vice chancellor

The Lord Soley

Revd Tim Stead (CofE)

Ezra Stripe, Hidayah

Revd Robert Thompson, Vicar of St Mary with All Souls, Kilburn, and St James, West Hampstead

Revd Dr Chris Whitney- Cooper, co-chair of the Evangelical Fellowship for Lesbian and Gay Christians

Ruth Wilde, national coordinator, Inclusive Church

Revd Claire Wilson (CofE)

Revd Simon Wilson, Heacham, Norfolk (CofE)

The Revd Dr Simon Woodman, minister of the Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church

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