MPs await Commons debate on sex education amendment

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

MPs in support of a Labour amendment for mandatory sex and relationship education in schools hope they’ll be enough parliamentary time to allow for a debate and vote.

Yesterday, Shadow Home Secretary and Shadow Minister for Equalities, Yvette Cooper, told that stronger sex and relationship education (SRE), which included provision for LGBT students, could dramatically help in the fight against homophobic bullying and poor rates of sexual health in the LGBT community.

Labour has tabled an amendment to the Children and Families Bill for statutory Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) Education, but it remains uncertain if they’ll be enough parliamentary time to allow for a debate and vote on the amendment. It has to be done before 6pm on Tuesday.

The National AIDS Trust welcomed Ms Cooper’s comments on Monday and its Chief Executive, Deborah Jack, said to “Gay and bisexual men remain the population group most likely to acquire HIV in the UK. The latest figures show in 2012 there was more new HIV diagnosis among gay and bisexual men in a single year than ever before, while new diagnoses among young gay and bisexual men have doubled in the past ten years.

“HIV education therefore needs to contain clear, sensitive and sensible messages on sexual health, HIV and same-sex relationships that meet the needs of all young people.”

Guy Slade, parliamentary officer at Terrence Higgins Trust said: Too many young LGBT people are badly let down by inadequate sex and relationships education in our schools. Even in those schools where SRE is taught, teachers can be reluctant to discuss sexual orientation in the classroom; unsurprising given how many years it was forbidden by law. This means that young LGBT people’s sexuality is not being recognised and homophobia is going unchallenged.

“Making sex and relationships education part of the statutory curriculum would help to raise standards in teaching and ensure every child is taught properly about important issues like safer sex, how to have healthy and respectful relationships, and that it’s ok to be gay.”

In March, Children’s Minister Elizabeth Truss confirmed that Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) Education in England would remain a non-statutory subject.

Last month, a report by Ofsted showed more than a third of schools in England are failing to provide pupils with age-appropriate sex and relationship education.

Too few teachers have the expertise to discuss issues such as sexuality and domestic violence, the schools watchdog warned.