A landmark ruling last year means that UK schools will finally be teaching LGBT+ inclusive sex education.
The ruling made inclusive relationship and sex education compulsory in all schools in England, with all schools being given until the summer of 2021 to make good on their word.
Such a decision was, of course, controversial, particularly in a country where there had already been protests about LGBT+ topics being taught in schools. In 2019, a Birmingham school received major backlash for including LGBT+ relationships in their teachings.
Ultimately the protests were banned from taking place outside the school. In the wake of these protests, the court’s ruling to make LGBT+ inclusion mandatory was all the more impactful.
Primary school students will be taught about different family models, while secondary school students will receive information about different sexual orientations and gender identities.
This has been a long time coming, and many have come out to celebrate – including Stonewall’s director of education and youth, Mo Wiltshire.
“It’s hard to put into words just how momentous and life-changing this will be,” she said in an opinion piece for The i.
“Generations of young people will be attending schools that not only accept LGBT people and same-sex relationships but also celebrate and offer support on the issues that young LGBT people face.”
“Teaching about LGBT families not only means children from these families see themselves reflected in what they learn, but also helps all young people understand that there’s nothing wrong or unusual about being LGBT.”
LGBT people must thrive at school.https://t.co/iTvs38QMab
— Senthorun Raj ✨ (@senthorun) September 2, 2020
This is in stark contrast to what was taught in UK schools only a few decades ago, which was total silence on LGBT+ topics and sex education.
Under Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Section 28 was brought in which forbade promoting the “gay lifestyle”. As such, many educators were prevented from giving out any information about LGBT+ identities.
It was only repealed in 2003, but despite that, a 2017 report by Stonewall found that 40% of all students were still not receiving any LGBT+ inclusive information.
This year it should hopefully be different. Independent and faith schools are not supposed to be excluded from the ruling either – however, they may find ways around it.
In the UK, religion is protected under the 2010 Equality Act (as are sexual orientation and gender identity). As such, some schools may argue to teach within their beliefs.
For now, millions of British students will return to schools for the first time since the start of the pandemic and hopefully be met with a more inclusive environment.
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