The Hull and East Riding Labour LGBT+ Network’s Petition from Hull Pride in 2017, the first ever UK Pride, is shortly going to be presented to Parliament by Emma Hardy – Labour MP for Hull West and Hessle – and member of the Education Select Committee.
THE TEXT OF THE PETITION READS AS FOLLOWS:
The petition of residents of the UK,
Declares that there are benefits of inclusive teaching of Sex and Relationship Education (SRE) to ensure that no child is left in ignorance; further that the Government should pledge that the updated SRE guidelines for mandatory SRE in all schools will be LGBT inclusive, which it is yet to do; and further that recent agreements made by the Government with a party which is not sympathetic to LGBT inclusive SRE following the general election on June 8th 2017, causes concern that education that is appropriate and LGBT inclusive, could be put at risk.
The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to ensure that LGBT inclusive SRE is to be granted mandatory status in all schools in order that future generations leave school informed on such matters of equality and personal safety having been educated correctly about sexual relations.
And the petitioners remain, etc.”
We have delayed the presentation of the petition until the present time, which could not be more important or appropriate. Last year the government finally succumbed to campaigning groups such as this one, introducing legislation to make age appropriate Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) mandatory in ALL schools-primary and secondary. This was an important victory. The Education Secretary, Justine Greening called for guidelines on the teaching of SRE to be updated for the first time since 2000-and pledged the government to carry out a public consultation.
That consultation is under way until 12th February 2018. Of course, the world has changed greatly since 2000. There are, as Justine Greening’s guidelines point out, many dangers, such as those presented by the internet and social media which young people must receive guidance on.
There is one thing however, which reports by organisations such as The Terrence Higgins Trust and OFSTED have shown, is the lamentable provision of SRE for LGBT youngsters, where it is even provided at all. The reports have also shown the truly terrible lack of proper provision in terms of issues such as bullying and mental health.
Parliament last year provided the Education Secretary of the day with the power to make particular aspects of PSHE such as SRE mandatory. This should be extended, as our petition calls for, particular aspects of SRE such as LGBT and online safety being made mandatory in all schools. Simply to include it in guidelines for the National Curriculum is insufficient, because Academies and Free Schools do not have to follow the National Curriculum.
Of course, even then there will be urgent questions to be answered about the content and quality of such provision. Previous reports by OFSTED Inspectors have been scathing and criticisms from youngsters have been strong. SRE has – if provided at all – been totally inadequate. They deserve better. If this petition is acted upon it could help them ensure that they get it. The human cost of not doing so is simply too high.