Conservative MP Philip Davies blocks motion to make LGBT+ lessons at schools mandatory

Lizzy Buchan, Eleanor Busby
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Conservative MP Philip Davies blocks motion to make LGBT+ lessons at schools mandatory

A motion to reform relationships and sex education (RSE) in English schools – which includes teaching LGBT+ issues - has been delayed after one Conservative MP objected.

The government’s new guidance on RSE says all pupils should be taught about LGBT+ families and how to treat LGBT+ people with respect as part of compulsory lessons from September next year.

But the vote on changes to the curriculum was delayed until next week when Tory MP Philip Davies objected to it in a late-night Commons debate on Wednesday.

Parliamentary rules say that if a single MP shouts their opposition then a vote can be delayed, allowing backbenchers to make their views known to the government.

Mr Davies has gained a reputation for trying to block legislation, using protracted speeches to filibuster backbench bills on issues such as offering free hospital parking for carers and first-aid training in schools.

Angela Rayner, the shadow education secretary, said she was “deeply disappointed” that MPs had been prevented from pressing ahead with the guidance on RSE.

She said: “Opposing it sends a terrible message to LGBT+ young people just at a time that we should make clearer than ever that we have moved beyond the shameful days of Section 28.

"We have a moral imperative to ensure that all children receive LGBT+ inclusive education, and there is a clear legal requirement for schools to comply with the equalities act.”

The delay comes amid a debate over the provision of LGBT+ lessons, as some families believe they should be able to withdraw their children from relationships lessons when they become mandatory.

At least five schools in Birmingham have suspended classes on same-sex couples after weekly protests from parents against the teachings.

Parents will be allowed to withdraw their children from sex education lessons up to the age of 15 – but they will not be allowed to take pupils out of relationships education classes.

Speaking in the Commons, Jim Shannon, a member of the socially conservative Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), asked: “Logically, a withdrawal from sex education must surely also be a withdrawal from relationship education unless the two subjects are taught separately?”

Chris Bryant, Labour MP for Rhondda, said: “Does the minister not find it utterly depressing that the one bit that people seem to object to is that pupils might be ‘exposed’ to the fact that there are homosexuals in society, and is that not deeply painful to gay parents, to children who might be gay or have gay uncles, aunts or other family members and to gay teachers?”

Nick Gibb, schools minister, replied: “One of the key elements of relationships education is ensuring that children are aware, including in primary schools, that loving families can be made up of two mothers, two fathers or one mother and one father.

“Children are being taught that other family structures are just as loving and caring as their own.”