Nick Clegg: Tories to blame for blocking mandatory sex education

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Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has blamed his coalition partners for stopping plans for statutory sex and relationship education.

The Education Committee recently recommended that LGBT-inclusive SRE be mandatory in all schools – and Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt has already pledged to make the change law.

Lib Dem Schools Minister David Laws has already pledged statutory SRE if the party is re-elected – but Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has this week claimed the Conservatives are blocking plans.

In an interview with Attitude, Clegg said “[I’ve] been trying to argue this for five years against the Tories… [but they] just keep whacking it.”

He said: “You should ask them.

“They’ve got this rather odd ideological objection to the idea, because Michael Gove et al have got this zany belief that if your child goes to an academy or free school they should be taught to a different standard than everyone else.

“We haven’t been able to persuade him and the Tories that we can make progress, but we will.

“It’s such a batty idea that a little boy or girl is taught proper sex education classes in one school but if it’s an academy there’s no such requirement.

“We need to have a more grown-up and universal approach with all children – gay or straight – to deal with the challenges of a highly sexualised environment and online world.”

Michael Gove was Secretary of State for Education until last July – when he was replaced by Nicky Morgan.

Despite the Lib Dems supporting SRE, Labour has previously slammed the party for failing to support its parliamentary measures on the issue.

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper told the PinkNews Debate: “I am really appalled at the way the Government has dragged its feet on this because, when you see the levels of homophobic bullying in schools, the fact that you have some surveys showing almost half of young LGBT people self harming, when you have growing violence in teenage relationships, when you have teenagers exposed to on the internet all sorts of violent pornography and so on – the idea that we are not teaching all of our children respect in relationships, the idea that we are not making it compulsory in every school, I just think is so out of date, and I just think it is horrifying and irresponsible to be honest.”

She added: “Actually the Lib Dems have voted against it several times when we put forward amendments in Parliament to push this through.

“I wish you would vote with us. I wish all the Lib Dems and all the Tories would vote with us would have a consensus across parties about this.”

Labour MP Seema Malhotra said last year: “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.

“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.”