Government acquiesces to those wishing schools ignore LGBT content

February 26, 2019

The Accord Coalition for Inclusion Education has criticised the Government’s proposed new Relationships and Sex Education guidance for providing a green light to primary schools to ignore LGBT content and for allowing faith schools to ignore other religious perspectives.

Chair of the Accord Coalition, the Reverend Stephen Terry, said ‘To our great disappointment, the guidance falls short of requiring schools to actively promote the acceptance of LGBT people. It also gives encouragement to those schools that wish to do so to omit LGBT content completely.’

‘This is deeply irresponsible as we know a great deal of LGBT bullying still takes place in schools. If we truly wish to create a society in which LGBT people live free from discrimination and prejudice then all schools must be required to promote full equality and acceptance for all groups within that society.

‘The Government has manifestly failed in this and has instead surrendered to a narrow-minded lobby which wishes to promote exclusion rather than inclusion.’

While the proposed guidance is stronger on LGBT inclusivity at the secondary school stage, it nevertheless advises that sexual orientation and gender identity should – rather than must – be explored by secondary schools in a ‘clear, sensitive and respectful manner’. The guidance repeatedly urges schools to consider the Equality Act 2010, but overlooks the fact that the Act does not extend to the content of a school’s curriculum.

The guidance also facilitates religious bias by failing to require or encourage schools to teach about a balanced range of views when teaching about religious perspectives. The original draft of the Government’s proposed guidance encouraged faith schools to ‘introduce pupils to different faith perspectives’. This has now been removed.

In January 2018 the Government affirmed that new guidance would stress LGBT inclusivity.

Homophobia and transphobia are found to blight many schools. In June 2017 the LGBT equality charity Stonewall issued its third five yearly report into the experience of LGBT pupils at British schools. Of LGBT pupils it found:

  • 22% at non-faith schools said staff never challenged homo, bi and transphobic language (rising to 31% of pupils in faith schools)
  • only 68% reported that their school said homo and biphobic bullying was wrong (dropping to 57% among faith school pupils)
  • only 41% reported that their school said transphobic bullying was wrong (dropping to 29 % of faith school pupils)

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