DfE sticks with LGBT guidance, but gets unions onside with tougher talk

Ministers have stuck by their guidance on LGBT lessons in schools despite concerns it was putting head in the firing line, but have won union support by strengthening their expectations around the issue.

Schools Week reported earlier this year how headteachers were concerned about the draft guidance for teaching relationships, sex and health education.

The guidance, finalised today, still states that it is up to primary school heads to decide whether teaching about LGBT relationships is age-appropriate for their pupils – which heads had said left them in the firing line over parent protests.

But education secretary Damian Hinds said today he would “strongly encourage” primary schools to discuss with pupils how there are “different, strong and loving families, including families with same-sex parents”.

The stronger language seems to have got some detractors onside.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), which had previously raised concerns, said Hinds had “strongly encouraged every primary school to continue what they are already doing – to teach about relationships in an inclusive way”.

“Today’s statement is a clear signal to schools, that when it comes to talking to pupils about the different kinds of families and relationships they may encounter in their lives, it’s a question of ‘when’ and not ‘if’.”

However Schools Week understands the union will continue to push for the guidance to also be beefed up.

The NAHT passed a motion at its annual conference in May calling for a “more robust and legally-enforceable policy and support for schools as they carry out their public sector equality duty”.

One head warned protests against LGBT relationships education at schools across England are being exacerbated by unclear government guidance.

Whiteman added today: “We will continue to work alongside the schools where we have seen protests and objections, to help everyone involved restore a peaceful and productive teaching and learning environment.”

From September early-adopter schools will begin teaching the new content, before a nationwide roll-out in 2020. The government will also publish details of a new working group shortly.

The finalised guidance published today is mostly the same as the draft guidance published earlier this year.

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  1. “Today’s statement is a clear signal to schools, that when it comes to talking to pupils about the different kinds of families and relationships they may encounter in their lives, it’s a question of ‘when’ and not ‘if’.”

    This is good sense that is not being seriously questioned by parents, including those involved in the Anderton Park school protests, although some non parents may have had other agendas. The parents and their MP, Roger Godsiff, made clear that their objection was specifically the teaching of LGBT issues to 4 and 5 year old children.

    This was completely misrepresented in most media comment fed by hysteria from LGBT activists. The head of the school did not seem to be aware of the 2017 Statutory Guidance which requires the governors to consult with parents on such matters.

    You can find a detailed analysis of the issues involved here.

  2. Mark Watson

    Nice attempt to pivot away from the absolute bigotry demonstrated on the ground. Apologists like you and the reprehensible Roger Godsiff try to muddy the waters by doing things like referring to “the teaching of LGBT issues”.

    Of course what they’re trying to do here is make people think that children are being taught about gay sex (sorry to be blunt) and of course any right minded person would object to 4/5 year olds being taught about any kind of sex.

    But that’s not what was being done. Children were being exposed to the fact that some families are made up of children with two mummies, two daddies etc. Nothing deeper than that. The kind of thing that would make children in those types of families feel less isolated.

    And frankly referring to the “hysteria from LGBT activists” says all you need to know about the author. It wasn’t LGBT activists who mobbed the school, scaring the children and the teachers. It wasn’t LGBT activists sending death threats to people who have dedicated their careers to helping children. It wasn’t LGBT activists pelting people with eggs for putting up banners.