William Eichler 19 December 2017

Transgender issues to be taught in schools

Transgender issues will be taught as part of sex and relationship education classes in primary and secondary schools, according to the Government.

The Department for Education (DfE) is launching an eight-week call for evidence from teachers, parents and pupils on compulsory sex and relationship education.

The current statutory guidance for teaching Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) is nearly 20 years old and fails to address many issues that have come to light in the 2000s, including online pornography, sexting and staying safe online.

The call for evidence also asks for input on mental wellbeing, staying safe online and LGBT issues.

‘It is unacceptable that Relationships and Sex Education guidance has not been updated for almost 20 years especially given the online risks, such as sexting and cyber bullying, our children and young people face,’ said education secretary Justine Greening.  

‘Young people must have an education that teaches them the importance of healthy and stable relationships. 

‘This call for evidence is about giving teachers, parents and especially young people a chance to help shape that new approach and I’d urge them to take part.’

Currently, only pupils attending local-authority run secondary schools – which represent around a third of secondary schools – are guaranteed to be offered Sex and Relationship Education as currently delivered.

Legislation was passed by Parliament earlier this year to make relationships education compulsory in all primary schools and relationships and sex education compulsory in all secondary schools.

Responding to the call for evidence, Ruth Hunt, chief executive of Stonewall said: ‘We’re pleased to see the Government taking steps to ensure lesbian, gay, bi and trans people, and the issues they face, are included in relationship and sex education.

‘The current guidance, published 17 years ago, contains no mention of LGBT people.

‘Schools that teach LGBT-inclusive RSE are in the minority, leaving many LGBT young people without the information they need to make safe, informed decisions.

‘Just 13% of LGBT young people have learnt about healthy same-sex relationships.  

‘In schools where pupils receive an inclusive education, LGBT pupils are less likely to experience bullying. They are also more likely to report feeling safe, welcome and happy at school.

‘We’ve been approached by many teachers who want to deliver inclusive education, but lack the confidence or knowledge to do so.

‘We would encourage all pupils, teachers and parents to have their say to ensure schools offer a curriculum that serves all young people.’

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