We are pressing for the new mandatory sex and relationship lessons and Personal, Social & Health Education (PSHE) in all schools to include LGBT+ issues, in order to cut HIV, bullying and self-harm
After pressure from the PTF and others, the government has agreed to make sex and relationship education (SRE) compulsory in all schools in England from 2019. There are indications that this mandatory SRE will include LGBT+ issues but the content and scope of these issues has not yet been revealed. Moreover, the new Education Secretary, Damian Hinds, has not been sufficiently clear about what opt outs, if any, will be given to faith schools. We will press him to ensure that they are compliant.
Research shows that 95% of LGBT+ young people received no LGBT+ SRE at school. Even in schools where LGBT+ issues are mentioned, it is superficial and inadequate.
Moreover, nearly half of LGBT+ pupils have experienced bullying at school, often leading to anxiety, depression, truancy and academic under-performance, and sometimes resulting in drug and alcohol abuse, self-harm and suicidal thoughts and attempts (especially among trans kids).
We must make sure that LGBT+ pupils get the support they need in schools and that heterosexual pupils are educated against homophobia, biphobia and transphobia.
Good quality, regular SRE and Personal, Social Health and Economics (PSHE) lessons are vital for the well-being of all pupils and the inclusion of LGBT+ issues is especially important in combating anti-LGBT+ prejudice.
These lessons need to be mandatory, otherwise many schools will not undertake them.
The PTF has a long history of advocacy on this issue and in 2017 we spoke at 38 schools and colleges on LGBT+ issues, sex education and related human rights matters.
Our work on this issue can help pressure the government to make sure that mandatory SRE and PSHE lessons are inclusive of LGBT+ issues and ensure that all pupils are well informed to protect their sexual and emotional health. In particular, we will press for LGBT+ pupils to be affirmed and that anti-LGBT+ prejudice is countered and reduced. We will work with LGBT+ youth groups and with straight ally youth organisations and sex education advocates.