Mandatory commitment does not include LGBT+ issues
London, UK – 5 October 2017
“I am urging Education Secretary Justine Greening to provide details about her unclear plans for mandatory sex and relationship education (SRE) in schools and to explain why she has, so far, excluded any legal requirement for teachers to support LGBT+ pupils and to address LGBT+ issues,” said Peter Tatchell, Director of the human rights advocacy group, the Peter Tatchell Foundation.
He has set out his concerns in a letter to the Education Secretary (copy below).
“Justine Greening’s commitment to mandatory SRE is commendable but we don’t know for sure to which schools it will apply, when it will start and what issues it will cover. The one thing we do know for certain is that it will not address the specific needs of LGBT+ pupils. This is a huge let down because LGBT+ youth are some of the most vulnerable and under-served pupils in the school system. They mostly lack affirmation of their identity and the provision of life-saving safer sex advice. Nearly half suffer bullying which can have negative knock-on effects including truancy, academic under-achievement, depression, anxiety and self-harm.
“The case for making mandatory SRE inclusive of LGBT+ issues is overwhelming. I hope the Education Secretary will ensure LGBT+ issues are part of the legal obligation on all schools,” said Mr Tatchell.
Copy of Peter Tatchell’s letter to the Education Secretary
Justine Greening MP
Secretary of State for Education
Dear Justine Greening,
Mandatory and LGBT+ inclusive SRE
We are delighted that earlier this year you agreed to make sex and relationship education (SRE) mandatory. This is an important step forward to prepare young people for adult life, to safeguard their sexual and emotional health and to reduce the incidence of sex abuse, teenage pregnancies, abortions and STI transmissions, including HIV.
You rightly identify that the aim is happier, healthier relationships.
We have a number of questions that we’d like to ask you:
1. When will mandatory SRE come into force?
2. At what ages will schools be required to teach it?
3. How often? Once a year? Once a month? Once a week?
4. Will SRE be mandatory in every school? Including academies, independent, private, free and faith schools? And international schools based in England?
5. Are any schools exempt?
6. Will faith schools be able to teach their own religious ethos against sex outside of marriage, divorce, inter-faith marriages, homosexuality and gender-variance?
7. Will there be national guidance on the issues that schools will be legally required to teach about SRE?
8. If so, what is this guidance?
9. While we applaud your decision to make SRE a legal requirement for schools, we are concerned that this requirement will not include SRE on LGBT+ issues, including affirmation and support for LGBT+ pupils and the provision to them of potentially life-saving information about safer sex for young people in same-sex relationships.
10. Can you please advise us why the mandatory SRE does not include LGBT+ issues, given the demonstrable needs of LGBT+ young people, as evidenced by their responses to the Stonewall School Report 2017 (see its key findings below).
This report shows that LGBT+ pupils are being badly let down by many schools.
You have indicated that you will consider making mandatory SRE LGBT+ inclusive.
11. When are you likely to announce the results of your consideration?
These are matters of deep concern to the whole wider LGBT+ community.
I would be very grateful if you could respond specifically to each of these 11 queries and add any additional information that you think may be relevant.
Director, Peter Tatchell Foundation
Studio 5, 14 Marshalsea Road, London SE1 1HL
The Stonewall School Report 2017 found that:
Nearly half of LGBT pupils (45 per cent) – including 64 per cent of trans pupils – are bullied for being LGBT in Britain’s schools.
Half of LGBT pupils hear homophobic slurs ‘frequently’ or ‘often’ at school.
Three in 10 LGBT pupils report that their school does not say that homophobic and biphobic bullying is wrong. Only two in five LGBT pupils report that their schools say that transphobic bullying is wrong.
Just one in five LGBT pupils have been taught about safe sex in relation to same-sex relationships.
More than four in five trans young people have self-harmed, as have three in five lesbian, gay and bisexual young people who are not trans.
More than two in five trans young people have attempted to take their own life, and one in five lesbian, gay and bisexual students who aren’t trans have done the same.