“Too much of it is not about relationships and understanding each other, having respect for each other and what is a genuine relationship”
Sex education in schools is still a contentious issue. Despite the government making sex ed compulsory in all schools in England last year, there’s still a disparity of opinion about whether or not students should be taught LGBT-inclusive sex ed.
Now the Labour leader (and king of Glastonbury) Jeremy Corbyn has come out to say that he believes that LGBT-inclusive sex and relationship education should be taught in schools. The leader of the opposition took part in Homo Sapiens, a podcast hosted by Will Young and Chris Sweeney, along with Gay Times, to commemorate LGBT History Month, where he said that the focus of all sex education should be about relationships.
“Sex education should involve same-sex as well as heterosexual relationships – it’s about relationships”, he said. “Too much of it is not about relationships and understanding each other, having respect for each other and what is a genuine relationship and what's an exploitative relationship; there's a big difference.”
“It's giving young people the confidence to understand that a loving relationship is something to cherish and be proud of”, he finished.
Corbyn’s comments encouraged a response from pop star and co-host Will Young, who suggested that young people are relying too heavily on pornography to learn about sex, and how that might negatively impact someone’s perceptions of a relationship.
“People are ashamed to talk about sex. We’re so ashamed to talk about it. It’s about loving and being safe”, Young added.
Despite support from the opposition, the current government has put a halt on its discussions about mandatory same-sex sex education. Following May’s cabinet reshuffle earlier this year, former Education Secretary Justine Greening was replaced by Damian Hinds, who appears to have stopped looking into the matter, despite reassurances by education minister Nick Gibb that it would continue forward. In fact, Hinds seems to also be backtracking on the government’s pledge of compulsory sex ed, with the Education Secretary admitting that parents can still take their children out of all sex education lessons if they choose.
Earlier this year, LGBT charity Stonewall launched their LGBT-Inclusive Curriculum Guide for UK secondary schools in a bid to to ensure that all pupils felt included and represented. The guidelines come after the organisations 2017 Schools Report discovered that while instances of bullying had gone down in schools, almost half of all LGBT pupils still face bullying, and that only one in five LGBT pupils have been taught about safe sex in relation to same-sex relationships.
“Too many LGBT pupils still tell us that relationships and sex education simply doesn’t include them”, wrote Hannah Kibirige, Stonewall’s Director of Education and Youth, in a blog. “LGBT young people are left unequipped to make safe, informed decisions, most go online to find information instead. It will come as no surprise that information online can be unreliable, and sometimes unsafe.” By teaching LGBT-inclusive sex education in schools, Kibirige argues, “LGBT young people are more likely to feel welcomed, included and accepted.”
Jeremy Corbyn has supported this issue before. In a 2016 manifesto, the Labour leader said that his government would work with schools to “promote a safe and inclusive environment for LGBT+ young people and encourage the adoption of inclusive practices and languages.” He also pledged to include LGBT historical figures and history in the national curriculum.