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Campaigners urge government to update curriculum to include gender and sexual identity

A new survey found around 31 per cent of young people want to be educated on LGBT topics

By Steve Brown

Campaigners are urging the UK government to update the Relationships and Sex Education curriculum.

Results from a government survey found that 31 per cent of young people want to be taught about gender and sexual identity as a priority and also showed that the younger generation believe an emphasis on traditional marriage isn’t relevant.

Out of a total of 17,852 responses from individuals and organisations, around 13 per cent were from young people and the adult respondents reportedly said traditional marriage was an important subject, but only three per cent of young people agreed.

Bryony Walker, Campaigner Director at Level Up – a group of inclusive young women aiming to end sexism in the UK – said: “I grew up in a violently homophobic home, I would do anything to turn back the clocks and get a decent sex education at school for me and my brothers and sisters.

“And now’s our chance. We have a small window of opportunity to change things, for the first time in a generation.

“At Level Up we’ve created a hack that makes it easier and quicker to have your say, especially if you’re a young person.

“So, let the government know how you feel, it’ll take five minutes.

“Providing young LGBTQ+ people with the information they need to have happy healthy relationships is essential, not optional.”

Leading LGBT charity Stonewall agreed that all young people deserve an education which “reflects and celebrates” diversity.

Sidonie Bertrand-Shelton, Head of Education Programmes at Stonewall, told i: “All young people deserve an education that reflects and celebrates the diversity of our communities.

“Far too many lesbian, gay, bi and trans students are leaving school having received no information or advice on how to lead healthy and safe relationships.

“Two in five pupils (40 per cent) are never taught anything about LGBT issues at school.

“LGBT students are not being given vital information they need to make informed decisions about their wellbeing.

“LGBT-inclusive relationships and sex education not only helps tackle this, but also creates a more inclusive school environment for all.

“That’s why it’s so important the updated guidance makes clear that timely LGBT-inclusive teaching is essential across all age groups.”

Speaking to i, the DfE spokesperson said: “We are updating Relationships and Sex Education and making it compulsory in all schools so young people are able to be happy, well-rounded individuals who know how to deal with the challenges of the modern world.

“We engaged directly with young people, parents and teachers to help shape the new curriculum for these subjects during our ‘call for evidence’ earlier this year.

“We are now consulting on the draft guidance for these subjects, which includes references to same sex marriage and gender, and makes clear that pupils should feel that these subjects are relevant to them whatever their developing sexuality.”