Table of Contents
The updated curriculum for Sex and Relationship Education will be compulsory from September 2020 in UK schools.
What is the new curriculum?
This curriculum aims to tackle harmful stereotypes relating to sexual, gender, and social identities. Schools must abide by the 2010 Equality Act when educating students about sex and relationships. This is to ensure that students of all identities can see past stereotypes and enter healthy relationships.
Government guidance states that ‘schools should be alive to issues such as everyday sexism, misogyny, homophobia and gender stereotypes’. Schools should also ‘take positive action to build a culture where these are not tolerated’.
As well as being inclusive of the LGBT+ community, the curriculum also aims to educate all students on sexual harassment, reproductive health, fertility, online safety, sexual pressure, contraception, and sexually transmitted diseases.
Is this education appropriate?
Schools can teach sex education at the primary school level, but they are not forced to do so. However, they must teach primary children about healthy relationships.
By the end of their primary education, children will know that families of all types are capable of providing a safe, nurturing environment. They will know that healthy families include parents who are single, LGBT+, older, or, younger. And, biological, foster, or adoptive parents can raise children while maintaining healthy relationships within their family.
At a time where teachers feel it is appropriate, they will continue to teach students about healthy platonic and familial relationships, while introducing education on healthy sexual relationships. The government states that schools ‘should ensure that [LGBT+] content is fully integrated into their programmes of study … rather than delivered as a standalone unit or lesson’.
By the end of their secondary education, students should be confident in their understanding of all forms of relationships. They will recognise the characteristics of happy and healthy relationships, as well as those that are harmful.
Why does my child need to learn about LBGT+ sex?
Put simply, all our children need to know how to live healthily and safely. And, not every child in a classroom will be cisgender and/or heterosexual.
Though a dominant 94.6% of the UK population aged 16+ identify as heterosexual or straight, approximately 1.2 million people over 16 identify themselves as lesbian, gay, or bisexual.
That is 1.2 million people who would have benefitted from inclusive sex education.
The government advice states that ‘pupils need knowledge that will enable them to make informed decisions about their wellbeing’. Obviously, not all sex education is going to apply to everyone, but all sex education should be taught. All students should access the information they need. Everyone should learn to accept and understand the sexual identities of those around them.
What do the LGBT community think?
21-year-old Fabian comments on his experience of sex education. He believes the lack of inclusivity contributed to his sexual confusion, and that it was detrimental to his mental health.
‘The lack of knowledge I had about LGBT sex education scared me to ever act on my own desires,’ he said, ‘and I was always unsure of what “gay sex” consisted of’.
He explains ‘if LGBT education was present while I was at school, I believe I would have felt more comfortable to be who I am’. He also said he would ‘not have to pretend to “like” a gender I wasn’t attracted to’.
Charlie is also 21 and is a transgender male. He states ‘I love that people are finally realising that it’s a good idea to educate, and not sweep things under the rug.’
If he had grown up with inclusive sex and relationship education, Charlie confirms ‘I would have been less confused, and more comfortable with who I am.’
Trying to conform to social norms, Fabian explains he suppressed his identity, which ‘lead to the damaging toll on [his] mental health’.
Charlie also suppressed his identity ‘I used to force myself to wear dresses and more feminine makeup’ he says.
Fabian believes that ‘once we introduce this type of education, I believe schools will be a much safer place for the younger generation’.
Charlie feels that ‘sex and gender education will help trans youth come to terms with their identity and their feelings, and will help society understand what they are experiencing. It will create a more accepting world’