MPs push to make LGBT-inclusive sex ed mandatory

A group of MPs are pushing an amendment to make LGBT-inclusive sex and relationship education mandatory – after the Education Secretary hinted she was open to reform.

Education Secretary Justine Greening has repeatedly suggested she is open to reform on sex and relationship education, hinting last summer that the issue was near the top of her “in tray”.

She told Parliament in November that she was “considering all the options” on the issue – and has since come under pressure from campaigners and MPs to reform SRE to make guidance fit for the 21st century.

An all-female group of MPs led by Labour’s Stella Creasy are now attempting to secure reform on the issue, tabling an amendment to the Children and Social Work Bill.

The bill would make it mandatory in all schools for personal, social and health education to include lessons on “sex and relationships education, same-sex relationships, sexual consent, sexual violence, and domestic violence”.

The law would require education watchdog Ofsted to evaluate school’s provisions on SRE as part of inspections, considering “whether the information provided to pupils is accurate and balanced, age-appropriate, inclusive, or religiously diverse”.

Writing in the Telegraph, Ms Creasy notes: “Safeguarding children cannot fail simply because politicians can’t, or won’t, make time.

“New Clause 11 of the Children and Social Work Bill – an amendment to the current legislation, which will we the subject of a Parliamentary vote this week – makes providing SRE that is inclusive, age appropriate and religiously sensitive a requirement for all schools, including academies.

“Backed by groups including the NSPCC, Barnados and the Scouts, it would make sex and relationships education a reality within the next year.

“This will be the second time in recent history we have attempted to put this into law – the first in 2013 was thwarted by the Government, arguing it superseded the rights of parents.”

She adds: “If the Government votes down Clause 11 and fails to provide an alternative, it could be months, if not years, before SRE for all children comes into existence.

“With the maelstrom of Brexit, it is difficult to see this being considered a priority for additional Parliamentary time. Thus legislative opportunities to actually make SRE happen are few and far between.

“They must back the amendment this week, or provide new legislation to enable compulsory sex and relationships education to become a reality. Now is the moment to act – who knows when another chance will arise.”