When students return to school in England this month, they will receive an education that is LGBTQ+ inclusive. That’s because of a new directive by the government providing guidelines for sex, health, and relationships education.
“To embrace the challenges of creating a happy and successful adult life, pupils need knowledge that will enable them to make informed decisions about their wellbeing, health and relationships and to build their self-efficacy,” the report states in its introduction, before adding that “high quality, evidence-based and age-appropriate teaching of these subjects can help prepare pupils for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of adult life.”
The new guidelines call for the inclusion of issues important to LGBTQ+ students, including personal and mental well-being, sex education, and the nature and development of relationships between people. They also note the importance of schools and teachers in promoting the “spiritual, moral, social, cultural, mental and physical development” of students.
The guidelines take into account the variations in the student body at different schools, such as those relating to religion, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, and more. It calls on schools to “foster healthy and respectful peer-to-peer communication and behaviour” between students and to provide an environment “which challenges perceived limits on pupils based on their gender or any other characteristic.” The guidelines also noted schools should “be alive to issues such as everyday sexism, misogyny, homophobia and gender stereotypes and take positive action to build a culture where these are not tolerated.”
Parents will have the option of requesting to have their child exempted from the sex education portion of instruction. No such exemptions exist for the relationships and health portions of instruction.
England follows Scotland in integrating LGBTQ+ inclusive studies this falls. Students returning to school in Scotland will receive their LGBTQ+ inclusive education this year.
“These subjects represent a huge opportunity to help our children and young people develop,” the guidelines declared. “The knowledge and attributes gained will support their own, and others’ wellbeing and attainment and help young people to become successful and happy adults who make a meaningful contribution to society.”