When we speak to our adult supporters about what it was like to grow up LGBT, one experience many describe is the dreadful sex education they received at school.
While things have improved steadily in recent years, and Section 28 is now a thing of the past, we know from our research that most schools still don’t teach high-quality, LGBT-inclusive Relationships and Sex Education.
That’s why the UK government’s successful amendment to the Children and Social Work Act 2017 to make Relationships Education and Relationships and Sex Education compulsory in all of England’s primary and secondary schools respectively, marked such a huge step forwards.
From September 2020, every school in England will teach these subjects. In this teaching, all secondary schools will be required to teach about sexual orientation and gender identity, and all primary schools will be required to teach about different families, which can include LGBT families.
These changes are being reflected in Scotland and Wales too, where the Scottish and Welsh governments are set to introduce LGBT-inclusive teaching in the coming years. In Scotland, the government has committed to embedding LGBT-inclusive education across the curriculum and work has begun to implement reforms to practice and guidance, professional learning, inspections, and the recording of bullying incidents by 2021.
This has the potential to create a huge change in how LGBT people, families and relationships are taught about in our schools – helping to ensure that LGBT young people, and their peers, are prepared to have happy, healthy relationships, and grow up proud of who they are.
Our focus now shifts to supporting the hundreds of schools we work with to start this new teaching. And at a time when the ‘morality’ of LGBT-inclusive teaching is once again a subject of national debate, it’s vital that the UK, Scottish and Welsh governments invests in training for teachers to help schools deliver these subjects well.