MPs vote for LGBT-inclusive, compulsory relationship and sex education

Protestors demonstrate against the 'No Outsiders' programme, which teaches children about LGBT rights, at Parkfield Community School on March 21, 2019 in Birmingham, England, a week ahead of the vote on LGBT-inclusive RSE education.

A large majority of MPs have voted in favour of the Government’s new, LGBT-inclusive regulations for Relationships and Sex Education (RSE).

The vote, held in the House of Commons on Wednesday (March 27), saw 538 MPs voting in favour and 21 against the first update to the RSE guidance since 2000.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds announced the proposed update last month following a government consultation on the topic. If the regulations pass through both Houses of Parliament, the regulations will be made and the final guidance and regulations will be published.

The curriculum will adapt according to the pupils’ age, with schools ensuring that their teaching is “sensitive and age appropriate.” Primary schools pupils will receive relationships education, while secondary school students will learn about relationships and sex education (RSE).

Vote comes amid protests against LGBT-inclusive education

Starting from September 2020, at primary school level, pupils will be taught about various family models, including same-sex families. At secondary school, the curriculum will address LGBT+ issues, including how damaging stereotypes, including those based sexual orientation or gender, can be.

The vote comes as various schools in Birmingham have had to drop LGBT-inclusive classes after a group of parents of religious conservative background protested against them.

Complaints against RSE education classes were also reported at various primary schools in Greater Manchester, where Mayor Andy Burnham expressed support for LGBT-inclusive education in a statement on Wednesday.

“It is right that children learn about all kinds of relationships and the equality of every relationship. This supports LGBT young people, teachers and parents and helps to build strong, cohesive and united communities.”

MPs and campaigners welcome vote in favour of LGBT-inclusive RSE education

Various MPs openly showed support for LGBT-inclusive RSE education in tweets before, during and after Wednesday’s vote.

Ilford North Labour MP Wes Streeting wrote: “Without a moment’s hesitation I am voting in favour of compulsory and inclusive relationships education. No return to section 28. Ever.”

Fellow Labour MP Chi Onwurah from Newcastle Central retweeted him, adding: “Me too! Happy to take up any specific issues from the many constituents who contacted me, but LGBTQ relationships are part of our great, inclusive city of Newcastle & education should reflect that.”

Green Party MP Caroline Lucas, who represents the Brighton Pavilion constituency, commented: “Historic day for Sex and Relationships Education! Delighted that long, long awaited regulations to keep children informed & safe have been passed today. Well done to so many for years of hard work.”

Labour MP Stephen Doughty votes for LGBT-inclusive RSE education.

Labour MP Stephen Doughty proudly votes for LGBT-inclusive RSE. (Screenshot/Twitter)

LGBT+ campaigners also welcomed the result of the House of Commons vote.

Alex Phillips, RSE lead at Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “This is a historic day for both Relationships and Sex Education and for all young people across England. We now know that from September 2020 that RSE will finally be compulsory in all schools in England and that no more young people will be let down when it comes to learning about sex and relationships.”

Phillips said the vote is a step in the right direction, but that campaigners need to keep fighting to ensure that all lessons are fit for purpose.

He explained: “That includes being truly LGBT-inclusive, that HIV and sexual health are a core part of the curriculum and that schools are properly funded so that they can skill up their teachers and provide top-quality resources.”

“All students, whether they are LGBT or not, should have the time and space to learn about the diversity that exists and makes our world beautiful.”

— Mo Wiltshire

Stonewall’s director of education and youth Mo Wiltshire noted that currently, two in five LGBT+ pupils are taught nothing about LGBT+ issues in school and nearly half of LGBT pupils are still bullied for being themselves.

She said: “These new subjects have the potential to deliver real change in how LGBT families, people and relationships are taught about. This will help foster greater inclusion, acceptance and understanding in our classrooms, playgrounds and school corridors.

“All students, whether they are LGBT or not, should have the time and space to learn about the diversity that exists and makes our world beautiful.”

Wiltshire also called on the Government to adequately invests in training and resources to support teachers to consistently deliver high-quality LGBT-inclusive teaching.