In a nutshell LGBT+ relationships and issues should be made a part of Sex and Relationships Education that is taught in schools and the number of reasons why is growing, rapidly.
It is important for young people to become educated on the issues that will one day impact them in one way or another. By using the platform that teachers have access to using a subject that already exists, it is the perfect opportunity to teach pupils about a major part of modern society.
For Local Authority maintained secondary schools in England, Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) is mandatory. Yet a National Union of Students (NUS) survey revealed that less than one fifth of the 2,500 students surveyed were taught about LGBT relationships [Pink News, 2015]. This is a worrying statistic and poses the question, what is SRE really for?
In my opinion is it is about ensuring young people can make educated life choices and to live happy, healthy lives with the ability to maintain positive relationships with others. None of that is exclusive to heterosexual and cisgender individuals. Everyone deserves the knowledge and resources to ensure that those things can be achieved.
NUS Vice President McGuire said: “SRE is failing millions. It is not currently compulsory for schools to teach young people about sexual consent and healthy relationships, and LGBT relationships” [Pink News, 2015].
Christine Blower, the National Union of Teachers’ general secretary, said: “We need education policy that develops curriculum for children and young people that supports the democratic values of a diverse Britain, including LGBT equality” [Guardian, 2015].
Needless to say, the amount of LGBT+ young people within schools that would benefit from clear information and advice from teachers in schools about the issues, thoughts and feelings they are experiencing would be enormous. This kind of education could contribute towards anti-bulling policies within school and building young people’s confidence to be open about their identity.
By including LGBT+ relationships and issues in SRE, it will also hopefully benefit parents and families too as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual teachers, governors and other staff within schools, showing a real support network and recognition of identities and sexualities that can often be overshadowed by our heteronormative society. Education is at the heart of diminishing ignorance.
According to YouGov “the average Brit Knows 3.1 lesbians and 5.5 gay men” [YouGov, 2014]. Many young people who although may not identify as a part of the LBGT+ community, will almost definitely encounter the community in their lifetime. Acceptance and tolerance needs to be promoted in schools, reducing the likelihood of discrimination and prejudice towards the LGBT+ community, continuing our journey towards an inclusive and accepting society.
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