It was announced late last year that the government is going to consult on making LGBT sex education compulsory in schools.
Justine Greening (Education Secretary) commenced an 8-week call for evidence which could move us closer to having sex-ed equality.
This consultation comes after 2016’s ruling which saw sex education become mandatory in schools, and while it’s lamentable that LGBT sex-ed wasn’t automatically included in that, this is a positive step. Stonewall, Peter Tatchell and Ian Green (Chief Executive of the Terrence Higgins Trust) have all reacted positively to the news.
The consultation will request evidence on all aspects of LGBT education, from sex to mental health. The SRE guidance on sex education hasn’t been updated in almost 20 years, which Greening deemed ‘unacceptable’ in light of an ever-changing society. She cited issues with sexting and cyberbullying which are undeniably valid, but my main gripe is that we don’t have an education system that reflects the landscape of LGBT rights in this country. LGBT equality now exists in many aspects, but not here. This consultation should, if correctly carried out, right this wrong.
Therein lies the caveat; the consultation must be carried out correctly. It will attract opposition, and evidence will be submitted by groups who don’t want LGBT sex education in schools for all the wrong reasons. It’s important that the evidence is assessed critically – prejudiced motivations have no place in this decision-making process.
Worryingly, one of the main strands of opposition will come from the very same government which is consulting on these plans. MP Philip Davies criticised Greening in a letter published in the Telegraph, using the same old buzz words homophobes use when trying to stifle LGBT equality. He cited the danger in introducing children to the ‘concepts’ of homosexuality and transgenderism at a young age, he bemoaned the attempts to ‘stigmatize’ traditional marriage and he called sex-ed equality a ‘coercive’ measure.
In my view he misses the point entirely; children are, by their nature, accepting and the sanctity of traditional marriage remains untouched by the push for equality. And how can equality ever be coercive? The government must remain strong in the face of opposition infused with bigotry.
LGBT sex education is an absolute must, we all know that. When I read this yesterday my immediate thought was that early education will ensure acceptance and promote safe sex. Latterly, however, I thought about my own life. Growing up in rural Ireland, had LGBT sex education been available in my school I would’ve come to realise I was gay much sooner. That early knowledge would have allowed me to skip a reasonably long period of confusion which dominated by late teens. I would have enjoyed my first year of university a lot more. As it stands, I didn’t even know what being gay was until I was 14. I hope this consultation prevents that from happening to other kids.