Stephen Flynn defends teachers educating pupils about gender identity

Stephen Flynn said he would rather his children speak to a teacher about 'challenges' they face than look at a smartphone <i>(Image: BBC)</i>
Stephen Flynn said he would rather his children speak to a teacher about 'challenges' they face than look at a smartphone (Image: BBC)

STEPHEN Flynn has defended Scottish teachers educating kids about gender identity after schools in England were told they should not teach children about the subject.

The SNP Westminster leader – who has two children – said on Question Time that he would rather teachers were empowered to be able to speak to youngsters about the issue than them turn to the internet and social media for advice.

This week it emerged draft guidance from the UK Government has instructed schools not to teach children about gender identity.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the new guidance would ensure children were not "exposed to disturbing content".

Under the plans, secondary-school pupils in England will learn about protected characteristics, such as sexual orientation and gender reassignment, but the updated guidance makes clear schools "should not teach about the concept of gender identity".

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The audience in Aberdeen asked whether Scotland should follow Westminster in banning the teaching of gender ideology.

Flynn responded: “I have two very young kids, one of whom will be starting school this year. I know for a fact he’s going to have very many questions in the years to come.

“I like most parents want to think he’s going to come and speak to his mum and dad about those big issues, but he’s not. He’s not going to come and speak to us about everything that’s happening in the world and in his life.

“What I would like to know and to have is the comfort that when he goes to school and he is around our fantastic educators that they are empowered to be able to speak to him about the big challenges he faces in his life.

“I don’t know what his future looks like. I hope it’s great, but the reality is I don’t know, and the people that spend the most time with him in his life over the coming years will be the people in the schools in this city we are sat in today and I am confident in their judgement.

“If they as experts feel they should be in a position to help guide him, I’m okay with that as a parent.”

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Presenter Fiona Bruce then interrupted Flynn - which she did on several occasions - to ask: “Even if you don’t agree with it you’d be ok with that?”

He replied: “The world’s not perfect and I would rather he was speaking to a teacher than looking at something on a smartphone.”

Association of School and College Leaders general secretary Pepe Di'Iasio said it was important that "banning the teaching of gender identity does not shut down discussion" and young people must be able to discuss this matter "without their teachers feeling in peril of saying something wrong".

Government plans to ban sex education for under-nines in England have also come to light.

The guidance sayspu berty and the facts about the menstrual cycle should not be taught until year four – when pupils are aged 8 or 9.

It adds sex education should not come in until year 5 - when pupils are 9 or 10 - in line with what pupils learn about conception and birth, as part of the national curriculum for science.