Labour welcomes Lib Dem decision to back statutory sex education

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Labour says the Liberal Democrats should have backed statutory Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education (PSHE) “four years ago”.

On Tuesday, in a major policy shift, the Liberal Democrats announced they would make PSHE compulsory in all state-funded schools, as part of a manifesto pledge.

“Labour has long called for the compulsory introduction of age appropriate sex and relationship education (SRE) in all state schools,” Shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt said in response.

He added: “The Liberal Democrats have had four years to deliver this policy. Instead, Nick Clegg has signed up to a raft of damaging measures, including allowing unqualified teachers into our classrooms on a permanent basis.”

Seema Malhotra MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Preventing Violence Against Women and Girls, said: “Time and again the Lib Dems say one thing and do another.

“If Lib Dem MPs had backed Labour’s legislative amendments, this would already be a reality for our young people. We have campaigned for this for years and they have repeatedly voted against it.

“Violence in young relationships is a huge issue, as is preventing violence in future relationships.

“Only through ideas like compulsory sex and relationship education can we tackle the root causes of domestic abuse and give young people the tools and support they need to make informed decisions about their own lives.

“It is welcome that the Lib Dems have finally caught on to this agenda but they have had four years in government to take some action on this and have failed.”

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.

However, several Conservative MPs, such as Dr Sarah Wollaston, support the measure.

Dr Wollaston has praised the Conservative peer and former Health Secretary, Lord Fowler, who last week told PinkNews it was time to heed the clamouring views of parents “who are desperately in favour of this”.

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

It said SRE was already “compulsory” in all maintained schools.


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