Anti-trans and anti-drag groups to give evidence in review of sex education in UK schools

A classroom in the UK

Organisations which have expressed anti-trans and anti-drag views will give evidence at a review examining the UK’s relationships, sex and health education (RSHE) curriculum.

On Wednesday (10 May) the Women and Equalities Committee will hold a one-off session examining the current RSHE curriculum in schools, what parents and young people want from this area of study and how the curriculum is being delivered. 

The committee will also look at how the review is being carried out and stakeholders’ “confidence” in it. 

The non-inquiry session will see representatives from different campaign, education and sex education groups provide oral evidence, as well as hear from academics specialising in sexual health and health equality. 

Those slated to present include: 

  • Lottie Moore, head of Biology Matters at Policy Exchange
  • Tanya Carter, spokesperson at Safe Schools Alliance UK
  • Lucy Marsh, communications and PR officer at Family Education Trust
  • Dr Sophie King-Hill, senior fellow, Health Services Management at University of Birmingham
  • Lucy Emmerson, chief executive at Sex Education Forum
  • Jonathan Baggaley, chief executive at PSHE Association

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Biology Matters, a unit at think-tank Policy Exchange, was founded by Labour MP Rosie Duffield, SNP MP Joanna Cherry and Conservative peer Baroness Jenkin of Kennington, who all hold gender critical views. 

Launched in October 2022, the cross-party group seeks to document and scrutinise policies based on “gender identity theory” rather than biological sex, which the politicians claim put women, children and LGB people at risk of harm. 

“Concern about these developments crosses ordinary political divisions. We are from three different political parties, with very different views on the economy, on many social issues and even on the future of the UK itself,” the women said in a joint statement.

“The impact of gender identity ideology on children’s rights, women’s rights and the rights of LGB people, however, is a matter of importance for everyone who cares about truth and fairness.”

Both Duffield and Cherry have often courted controversy for their views on trans issues, with Cherry currently threatening legal action against an Edinburgh venue after staff refused to work with her over her anti-trans views. 

Safe Schools Alliance UK, a grassroots organisation focused on child welfare, states on its website its main concerns are the “adoption of gender identity ideology in schools” and its “impact on the lives of children, especially girls”, as well as the use RSHE materials to “sexualise children and promote porn and other harmful sexual practices”. 

In January, the group “welcomed” Tory Scotland secretary blocking Scotland’s landmark gender law reforms, stating it is “deeply concerned” schools are supporting trans pupils. 

“Their motivation for identifying out of their birth sex cannot be properly explored, and they cannot receive support, while their teachers and peers are colluding in the lie that ‘changing gender’ will resolve all their problems,” the group said in a statement. 

The Family Education Trust, which researches the “causes and consequences of family breakdown”, has meanwhile has labelled Drag Queen Story Hour events “grossly age-inappropriate”

In 2012, former Family Education Trust director Norman Wells published two letters to major newspapers rallying against same-sex marriage. 

At the time, Wells claimed same-sex marriage would “change the meaning of marriage” and threaten its “monogamous character”. As well as this, he stated it was “not just religious people who oppose calling same-sex union ‘marriage’”, saying the David Cameron’s government bringing forth such legislation was “undemocratic”. 

The Family Education Trust has also released a booklet detailing how parents can “combat” ‘gender ideology’ in schools. 

Why is the Tory government reviewing sex education?

In March, the Tory government said it would review RSHE statutory guidance following “disturbing” reports of “inappropriate material” being taught in some schools. 

At the time, education secretary Gillian Keegan said she was “deeply concerned” about the reports. 

“This urgent review will get to the heart of how RSHE is currently taught and should be taught in the future,” she said in a statement. 

“This will leave no room for any disturbing content, restore parents’ confidence, and make sure children are even better protected.”

Leaks in April suggested the government was looking at bringing in guidance which would see trans pupils outed to their parents, a move which teachers and LGBTQ+ groups labelled “dangerous”.

The new RSHE guidance and guidance for schools on trans pupils are slatted to be released this summer.

Relationships and health education has been compulsory in all schools and sex education compulsory for all secondary school pupils since September 2020.