Council motion: Supporting LGBT+ inclusive education

Liberal Democrats on Haringey Council recently brought forward the following Motion. Given the ongoing protests seen at some schools across the country, it is a timely Motion on a current and important issue.

Council notes:

  1. That under the Equalities Act 2010, Haringey Council has a legal duty to combat discrimination and promote equality.
  2. That the Council’s Borough Plan 2019-23 establishes the principles that the Council will work “with residents and employees to create communities which are able to come together, value diversity and challenge discrimination”.
  3. That the number of homophobic hate crimes recorded in Haringey by the Metropolitan Police increased by 24.71% in the 12 months to April 2019 compared to the previous 12 months.[1]
  4. That a 2017 report by Stonewall on LGBT in Britain: Hate Crime and Discrimination noted that their results were “particularly alarming” for trans people and that “Black, Asian and minority ethnic LGBT people are also disproportionately affected, with a third having experienced a hate crime or incident in the last year compared to one in five white LGBT people”.[2]
  5. That the Department for Education’s draft guidance on Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) and Health Education which are expected to take effect in September 2020 states that “we expect all pupils to have been taught LGBT content at a timely point as part of this area of the curriculum”. It says that schools should “ensure that this context is fully integrated into their programme of study for this area of the curriculum rather than delivered as a stand-alone unit or lesson” and that their teaching should be “sensitive and age-appropriate”.
  6. That the attempts to teach an LGBT+ inclusive curriculum at a number of Birmingham schools have been met with protests. The headteacher of one of the affected schools has reported that they had led to “distress and harassment” and warned that “we cannot be a primary school if staff and children are afraid to come to school”.[3]
  7. That 45% of LGBT+ young people report being bullied at school because of their sexual orientation.[4]
  8. That 9% of trans pupils report receiving death threats at school.[5]
  9. Only 40% of LGBT+ young people report having someone at home they can talk to about their sexuality.[6]
  10. Dr Mary Bousted, the joint general secretary of the National Education Union has stated that “Education professionals want PSHE and RSE to become compulsory in all schools so they can help young people to become resilient, well-rounded and confident adults. Teaching young people about sex and relationships helps them to make well-informed choices. Parents support this, education professionals support this and, most importantly, young people want this. The Education Select Committee also recommends it is taught in schools.” [7]
  11. That of 810 young people aged 16-25 surveyed by the Terrence Higgins Trust 787 (or 97%) wanted Sex and Relationship lessons to be LGBT+ inclusive.[8]
  12. That despite this, politicians from major parties continue to argue that it is right for children not to learn about LGBT+ relationships. For example, the Rt Hon Ester McVey (Conservative MP for Tatton) has argued that “it is down to parents” whether their children should participate in these lessons and the Hon Roger Godsiff (Labour MP for Birmingham Hall Green) has stated he has “concerns about the age-appropriateness of children of four and five being introduced to these ideas”. [9]

Council believes:

  1. In the equality of all people regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
  2. That prejudice against LGBT+ people frequently interacts with and worsens other forms of prejudice including that aimed at people on the basis of their gender, ethnicity, religion and socio-economic status. Therefore, countering anti-LGBT prejudice will help reduce other forms of hatred and discrimination.
  3. That relationship education should be a compulsory part of the curriculum at all schools and for every child.
  4. That the age appropriateness of sex and relationship education is not affected by recognising the existence of differing sexual orientations and gender identities.
  5. It is not realistic nor desirable for any parent to expect their child’s school to keep them in ignorance of LGBT+ relationships.
  6. That most of the arguments offered against LGBT+ inclusive education fails to distinguish between sex and relationship education and/or do not recognise that schools are required to ensure lessons on these topics are age-appropriate.
  7. That teaching an LGBT+ inclusive curriculum in schools will foster attitudes among citizens that promote an inclusive and cohesive society in which homophobic hate crimes are rarer.

Council, therefore, welcomes:

  1. The inclusion of LGBT+ content in the draft guidance on Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) and Health Education.

Council resolves:

  1. To ask the Cabinet Member for Children, Education and Families to write to the governing bodies, proprietors, headteachers and principals of every school in the borough to offer the Council’s support with delivering an LGBT+ inclusive curriculum.
  2. That in the event any schools in Haringey are subject to demonstrations as a result of teaching an LGBT+ inclusive curriculum, then Haringey Council will not tolerate the disruption of children’s education nor the intimidation of pupils, staff or parents. If it proves necessary, the Council will seek Public Space Protection Orders to prevent these negative outcomes.

[1] https://www.met.police.uk/sd/stats-and-data/met/hate-crime-dashboard/

[2] https://www.stonewall.org.uk/system/files/lgbt_in_britain_hate_crime.pdf

[3] https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/birmingham-lgbt-protests_uk_5cfe920ce4b0aab91c09c9a4?

[4] https://news.sky.com/story/lgbt-lesson-row-school-staff-have-counselling-over-homophobic-protests-in-birmingham-11737134

[5] https://www.stonewall.org.uk/system/files/the_school_report_2017.pdf

[6] https://www.stonewall.org.uk/system/files/the_school_report_2017.pdf

[7] https://www.tht.org.uk/sites/default/files/2018-07/Shh%20No%20talking%20LGBT%20inclusive%20SRE%20in%20the%20UK.pdf p.17

[8] https://www.tht.org.uk/sites/default/files/2018-07/Shh%20No%20talking%20LGBT%20inclusive%20SRE%20in%20the%20UK.pdf p.30

[9]https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/showbiz-tv/moment-esther-mcvey-doubles-down-16371454

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