Teach toddlers about transgender issues, National Union of Teachers say

Camilla Turner
The NUT call on its members to promote LGBT+ issues to children starting from nursery school  - www.alamy.com

Toddlers as young as two should be taught about transgender issues, the National Union of Teachers (NUT) has said.

Delegates at the NUT’s annual conference in Cardiff called on its members to promote LGBT+ issues to children starting from nursery school.

They urged ministers to make proposed sex and relationship education (SRE) “inclusive” to so that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students “are told explicitly in the law that their lives are important too”.

Teachers noted that there are currently a “lack of policies which promote LGBT+ within schools” which they said can have a “significant negative impact” on the well-being of students and teachers in this group.

Education Secretary Justine Greening Credit:  GLYN KIRK

Earlier this year, the Education Secretary Justine Greening unveiled plans to teach primary school children about relationships and to teach secondary school children about sex and relationships.

She tabled an amendment to the Children and Social Work Bill which would see primary and secondary school children be given “age-appropriate” sex and relationship education. The Bill has now been approved by parliament and will receive royal assent later this year.

Currently only council-controlled secondary schools are required to teach children about sex in biology classes. But there is no such requirement on academies or free schools which make up the majority of secondary schools in England.

But teachers passed a motion which called on members to "campaign to ensure a comprehensive age-appropriate content including promotion of LGBT+ matters for all schools from nursery throughout all phases of state education".

The National Union of Teachers passed the motion at their annual conference in Cardiff Credit: Owen Humphreys

Annette Pryce, a member of the NUT executive committee and teacher in Buckinghamshire, added that the “right wing, religious lobby” had prevented ministers from proposing a more “inclusive” agenda for sex education classes to include teaching about LGBT+ issues.

“This new legislation has moved us forward but it is not inclusive,” she said. “Those generations of young LGBT+ people who have been failed by the system are still not told explicitly in the law that their lives are important too”. She added that the NUT must “ensure that SRE is inclusive to LGBT young people now and forever”.

Kiri Tunks, a teacher in East London and the NUT’s vice president, told delegates that Ms Greening’s amendment to the Bill was a “victory” but added that there is “still a long, long way to go”.

Teachers called for sex education to be "inclusive" so that children are taught about LGBT+ relationships as well  Credit: LUCY NICHOLSON

She said that members must “continue campaigning for proper inclusive sex education in all our schools for all our children”.

Ms Tunks said that the opt-out available to faith schools and parents is a “dangerous loophole” which will “leave many young people ignorant and vulnerable”.

Kevin Courtney, general secretary of the NUT, said: “This is the 21st century. Children and young people, unlike previous generations, get so much information from the internet. Some of it will be useful; a lot of it will be misinformed.

“It is high time that PSHE and SRE – including LGBT+ education – is recognised as an essential part of the school curriculum.

“It is important for a modern forward-thinking society to understand and embrace differences within our communities.”

Earlier this year, the Prime Minister gave her backing to SRE lessons, acknowledging the threats to children from social media and sexual images on the internet. Under the plans, teenagers will be taught about how to protect themselves from “sexting” and porn, under the biggest overhaul to sex education in 17 years.

Ministers have faced mounting pressure from across the political spectrum to bring about the change following concerns children are being left ill-equipped to cope with the new realities of online porn, cyber bullying and sexting.

The Church of England announced that they support the introduction of statutory sex education in schools, but  Andrea Williams, chief executive at Christian Concern, said that teaching SRE to young children would be "devastating" and risks "robbing them of their innocence".

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