Children will be taught about transgender issues as part of compulsory sex and relationship education classes, the Department for Education has confirmed as it launches a call for evidence today.
The classes, which will be made statutory for all primary and secondary schools from September 2019, must be “sensitive” to the needs of young people “whatever their developing sexuality or identity”, The Daily Telegraph has learned.
Peter Tatchell, the veteran gay right campaigner, wrote to the Education Secretary Justine Greening earlier this year to ask her a series of questions about what children will be taught in the classes.
Officials from the Department for Education responded by telling him: “With regards to your concerns about RSE [relationship and sex education] not including LGBT issues, I can assure you that the department expect all schools to ensure that young people, whatever their developing sexuality or identity, feel that RSE is relevant to them and sensitive to their needs.”
It comes as parents are being asked what their children should be taught in school sex and relationship lessons.
The Government said it wants mothers and fathers as well as teachers and young people to give their views on what should be included in a new curriculum on the subject.
Education Secretary Justine Greening announced earlier this year that sex and relationships education is to be made compulsory in all of England’s schools.
As part of the move, statutory guidance on the subject is being updated, amid concerns that the current advice is out-of-date and fails to address modern-day issues such as cyber-bullying, sexting and online safety.
The Department for Education is today launching an eight-week call for evidence, asking for views on age-appropriate content on topics to be included in sex and relationships education, including mental wellbeing and LGBT issues.
The call for evidence will look at areas such as what teachers think pupils should be taught, how parents expect children to be taught age-appropriate sex and relationships education, and what youngsters think they would benefit from being taught.
Under legislation passed earlier this year, relationships education is now compulsory in all primary schools, while sex and relationships education is compulsory in secondaries.
Peter Tatchell welcomed the DfE’s response to his letter, saying it is “reassuring to know that LGBT+ education will be part of the new RSE”.
He added: “Upholding the right of parents to withdraw their children from sex education at secondary level is a harmful concession that will deprive withdrawn pupils of access to information and support vital for their sexual and emotional health. It will put them at greater risk of unwanted pregnancies, abortions and sexual infections, including HIV.”
A Stonewall spokesperson said: “We very much welcome the opportunity for all teachers, parents and young people to feed in their views on what relationships and sex education should look like.
“We know from our research with LGBT young people that the vast majority do not hear about LGBT issues in RSE, leaving them ill-equipped to make safe, informed decisions about their relationships, health and wellbeing.”
Thomas Pascoe, Campaign Director of the Coalition for Marriage, urged parents to use the call for evidence to tell the Government that schools should be for education rather than “indoctrination”.
He said: “Under these proposals, the leading agent in the early sexualisation of children would be the state itself.
“There is no ‘age-appropriate’ way to teach primary school age children about homosexual relationships or transgenderism.
“We should be teaching young children broad values of respect and tolerance, not ordering them to accept adult sexual relationships which they are far too young to understand.
“At secondary school level, marriage needs to be taught as a gold-standard, not one option amongst a bewildering multitude.”