Most Brits think schools should teach about different gender identities, YouGov poll shows

A person raising their hand in a classroom.

The majority of the UK public thinks that schools should teach about gender identity, a YouGov poll suggests.

A report published on Friday (17 May) shows that most Brits don’t take the same view as the Conservative government, which last week issued updated sex education guidance banning the teaching of gender identity topics to all secondary school students.

The new YouGov polls found that 61 per cent of Brits think school pupils should be taught that people can change their gender identity, while 60 per cent of people believe students should be taught that non-binary people exist. Amongst parents, this rose to 66-67%.

The government announced on Thursday (16 May) that it plans to amend the relationships, sex and health education (RSHE) guidelines, which will essentially bar discussing of topics relating to gender identity, as well as stop sex-education classes for schoolchildren under the age of nine.

PM Rishi Sunak said the updated guidelines would “act swiftly” to curb so-called gender ideology.

“This new guidance will do exactly that, while supporting teachers to teach these important topics sensitively and giving parents access to [the] curriculum content if they wish,” he said.

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Britain overwhelmingly believes sex education is important

Despite claims that the guidance would “protect children,” the majority of Brits take a different stance, according to the poll.

Those who responded to the survey overwhelmingly agree that children under the age of nine should be taught basic forms of sex ed, with 32 per cent saying appropriate boundaries and how to report concerns should be taught before year five.

One in five respondents believe that students in year five and below should also be taught that gay and bisexual people exist, and under-nines about grooming.

Just one in seven Britons said it is not OK for schools to teach that people can be gay or bisexual.

Education secretary, Gillian Keegan.
Education secretary Gillian Keegan has struggled to defend the new guidelines. (Getty)

Meanwhile, 95 per cent per cent of parents with at least one child under the age of 18 believe that basic facts of conception and birth are an absolute must.

In addition, 82 per cent of parents believe children should be taught about gay and bisexual people, while 67 per cent want non-binary identities to be discussed.

Younger Britons are more keen that sexual acts be discussed during sex education – 80 per cent of 18 to 24 year olds agreed, compared with 60 per cent of those aged 65 and above.

The younger respondents were also more open to discussions about pornography and the harm it can have on body image, and on revenge porn.

While Conservative voters were significantly less likely to agree that non-binary identities should be discussed in schools, 51 per cent still think gender identity should be in the sex-ed curriculum.

About 90 per cent of Conservative voters think children should be taught about grooming, consent and similar issues.

New RSHE guidance ‘stupid and wrong’, politicians say

Politicians, activists and experts have expressed concerns about the updated guidance, with some saying the government is “politicising education” while others described it as “stupid and wrong”.

Labour MP Nadia Whittome criticised the decision, telling PinkNews: “Sex and relationship education is vital for helping to keep children and young people safe and healthy. The Tories claims about what children are learning are designed to fuel hysteria and build support for Section-28-style policies – which is what this latest guidance seems to be harking back to.”

Education secretary Gillian Keegan struggled to justify the policy update in interviews last week.

When pressed by journalists about how widespread the use of “inappropriate” RSHE resources is in schools, she responded that she didn’t know.

“I don’t think it’s widespread. I mean, I don’t know. Because it’s not something that we’ve gone and done a particular survey of… we’ve listened to reports, we’ve listened to concerns.”

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