Labour MP Kate Osborne says sex ed review ‘undoubtedly’ being used to push anti-trans agenda

Labour MP Kate Osborne at the PinkNews Westminster Pride Reception

Labour MP Kate Osborne says she believes the government’s review of relationships, sex, health and education (RSHE) is being used by certain groups as a way to push anti-trans narratives. 

Osborne, who represents Jarrow, explained during the PinkNews Westminster Pride Reception on Wednesday (7 June) that while the review is important, it is “undoubtedly” being used by groups with nefarious aims. 

The annual PinkNews Westminster Pride Reception this year marked the 20th anniversary of Section 28 being repealed in England and Wales.  

Introduced by Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government in 1988, the clause banned “promotion of homosexuality” by local authorities which effectively resulted in the self-censorship of LGBTQ+ teachers and decades of no support for pupils.

Speaking exclusively to PinkNews, Osborne said: “I recently chaired a select committee where [the review] was covered and made reference to Section 28.

“I think that it’s right that we should be reviewing it, we should always be looking at what we’re teaching our children in schools.

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“But, I actually think that we shouldn’t be too prescriptive. 

“I don’t think some of the rhetoric that we hear, some of the stories that we hear from some people – certainly from some of the panellists on that select committee – painted a true picture of what our children are actually hearing and learning in schools.” 

Kate Osborne at the select committee hearing in May. (Gov)

When pressed as to whether she was referring to anti-trans rhetoric and the notion that ‘gender ideology’ is being taught in schools, Osborne responded that she thinks that is “absolutely the case”. 

She added that if people examine what was said in the select committee hearing it would “confirm most undoubtedly that that’s the case here”. 

The government’s RSHE review was prompted by “disturbing reports” that “inappropriate material” was being taught in some schools – something that Conservative education secretary Gillian Keegan said “deeply concerned” her. 

Keegan said in a statement back in March: “This urgent review will get to the heart of how RSHE is currently taught and should be taught in the future. 

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

Labour MP Kate Osborne calls for “perspective” on trans issues

During the PinkNews Wednesday Pride Reception, Osborne addressed the toxic debate that has emerged around trans issues. It’s a topic which fellow attendee Ian Duncan, a Tory peer in the House of Lords, called “politicised” and in which the “middle ground has been vacated”.   

“We have to get this in perspective,” Osborne explained, “and actually the issues that people are worrying about, the issues that people will vote on, aren’t around trans issues.

“They’re on the cost-of-living crisis, they’re on the fact that people are struggling to pay their bills, food inflation, the lack of housing, the inequalities that we have across the country.

“That’s what people want to talk about. That’s what people care about.”

She added: “The majority of people just want to let people live their lives in whatever way they choose to.”

Wednesday’s PinkNews Westminster Pride Reception also saw speeches from mayor of London Sadiq Khan, shadow secretary of state for women and equalities Anneliese Dodds, minister for equalities Stuart Andrew, executive director of Kaleidoscope Trust Lady Phyll Opoku-Gyimah, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats Daisy Cooper and co-leader of the Green Party Carla Denyer.

The event recognises the immense contribution of the LGBTQ+ community in England in advance of the 2023 PinkNews Awards later in the year.