I have supported a letter along with over 50 other Members of Parliament co-ordinated by my colleague Emma Hardy MP on the teaching about same sex relationships in schools. Specifically, it calls on the Education Department to make it clear that schools will have an obligation to teach about same sex relationships. It also calls on them to state plainly that all headteachers will be supported in including that section of the relationships and sex education (RSE) curriculum in Primary Schools in the face of what appear to be co-ordinated homophobic protests based on conscious disinformation about the curriculum.
Schools have been disrupted, safety compromised and LGBT+ children have had to go to school through waves of protests that suggest that they should be ashamed of who they are. It is utterly unacceptable that Councils have had to seek injunctions to protect their pupils and teachers, and it is clear that firm action is needed. I fully support the call by the National Association of Headteachers that primary schools are enabled and encouraged to cover LGBT content when (and not if) they consider it to be age appropriate. While the previous Secretary of State was generally supportive of the schools involved, urgent clarity is needed to make clear that this is non-negotiable before the schools come back in September.
Children need to be taught that there is nothing wrong with a man being in a relationship with another man, or a woman with another woman. Denying that to children will not erase LGBT kids, it will only make them feel ashamed, isolated and rejected. Therefore, this is not a negotiable point for me or many other MPs.
You can find a full text of the letter below;
Text of letter:
Rt Hon Damian Hinds MP
Secretary of State for Education
20 Great Smith Street
London SW1P 3BT
1st July 2019
Dear Secretary of State,
We urge you to support school leaders across the country who have faced intolerable pressure and protests regarding the teaching of relationships education in primary schools.
We ask you to provide absolute clarity in regard to relationships education in primary schools, which must be inclusive of all protected characteristics, and treat the different types of relationships in our society equally, reflecting their equal status under the law and so promoting tolerance, respect and diversity.
In recent months, we have seen schools having to take unprecedented steps to provide a stable and safe educational environment for their pupils. It is unacceptable that a school had to close early due to nationally coordinated protests and had to seek a High Court injunction and an exclusion zone in order to continue with its day-to-day functioning.
We welcome your statement of 24th June 2019 alongside Stonewall to mark School Diversity week, and in particular your comment that you “strongly encourage” schools to discuss with children in class “that there are all sorts of different, strong and loving families”.
However, we believe that this does not go far enough and we urge you to make it clear that schools have an obligation to teach about same-sex relationships in primary schools as part of the new Relationships education, relationships and sex education (RSE) and health education curriculum that will become statutory in 2020.
The teaching of relationships education is not a choice for the school or the head teacher; it is a legal requirement. Schools and teachers are carrying out their responsibilities under the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED).
We support the call by the National Association of Head Teachers to change the guidance to state that primary schools are enabled and encouraged to cover LGBT content when (and not if) they consider it to be age appropriate.
Relationships education in primary schools is different to sex and relationships education in secondary schools. Misinformation about the content and a belief that it is individual head teachers making choices to teach such content has fuelled the protests and led to unacceptable pressures on and indeed threats toward Headteachers.
We urge that you support Headteachers and their staff who have faced such opposition by clarifying the position of the Government.