MP Caroline Lucas urges Nicky Morgan to make sex education statutory

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A bill to make Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) Education a statutory requirement for schools has been tabled by Green MP Caroline Lucas.

The MP for Brighton Pavilion says making PSHE a statutory requirement will help in the fight against sexually transmitted diseases and “empower young people”.

Ms Lucas expressed support for the Sex Education Forum’s campaign on improving sex and relationships education (SRE) for children and young people.

She said: “I’ve worked on the bill with the End Violence Against Women Coalition, the Sex Education Forum and the PSHE association, following on from a debate that I held in Parliament last year about gendered violence.

“In it I called for every child to receive sex and relationship education, alongside a whole school approach in order to help empower young people.”

The MP continued: “Whilst PSHE education must now teach about consent, it needs to go much further too, and include all forms of violence against women – including teenage relationship abuse, forced marriage, FGM, sexual exploitation.  It should also be linked in to work on gender equality and challenging gender stereotypes.

“Otherwise young women and men will never be exposed to education designed to reduce gendered violence, and designed to counter the damaging impact of cultural factors such as the media. Work in our schools must allow young people to be more in control of their sexual identity rather than being dictated to by the media or advertising.

“Crucially, it must address harmful notions of masculinity and present boys with positive alternatives.”

Caroline Lucas’ Private Members’ Bill will receive its second reading on 24 October.

It states: “To require the Secretary of State to provide that Personal, Social, Health and Economic education (PSHE) be a statutory requirement for all state funded schools; for PSHE to include Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) and education on ending violence against women and girls; to provide for initial and continuing teacher education and guidance on best practice for delivering and inspecting PSHE and SRE education; and for connected purposes.”

Last week, the Department for Education reiterated its opposition to statutory Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) Education.

Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper has long argued for statutory PSHE, which would mean teaching SRE as a subject in its own right.

She told PinkNews in June last year that it could help address the health challenges faced by LGBT students, such as homophobic bullying and poor rates of sexual health in the LGBT community.

However, backbench amendments have twice been voted down in the Commons and the House of Lords.

The leadership of the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats whipped their parliamentarians to vote against statutory PSHE.

Following yesterday’s appointment of Education Secretary Nicky Morgan, a Downing Street source told PinkNews that any change on SRE policy would be up to the new Secretary of State.


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