What is LGBTQ+ inclusion?
Written by Milly Evans, sex education campaigner and founder of I Support Sex Education.
As a Stonewall Young Campaigner, I came up with #ISupportSexEducation to highlight my passion for sex education and the importance of education in preventing HBT (homophobic, biphobic and transphobic) hate crimes and bullying, and to improve the overall well-being of the LGBTQ+ community. Inclusive sex education has always been at the top of my agenda and looked set to be a reality last year under former Secretary of State for Education, Justine Greening. However, Damien Hinds who has now taken her place following the cabinet reshuffle holds far more conservative views, which makes me and many others concerned that LGBTQ+ inclusive RSE is no longer guaranteed.
So what is LGBTQ+ inclusion? Is it really that big a deal?
LGBTQ+ inclusion means making education *SURPRISE!* LGBTQ+ inclusive. When we teach about consent, we have to make students aware that the necessary 'enthusiastic yes' to sexual contact applies to all kinds of relationships, regardless of sex, gender or number of participants. When we teach about protection from STIs, we have to talk about using dental dams for vulval oral sex, using condoms when using sex toys or having anal sex - essentially talking about protection being more than protection from pregnancy with penis in vagina sex.
But LGBTQ+ inclusion goes beyond sex. From primary school, children should have access to books like 'And Tango Makes Three' (here's a list of other LGBTQ+ inclusive children's books from the Guardian). Children should also be taught about different kinds of families, including those which may have two same-sex parents, single parents, step-parents or any other combination. This prevents future bullying by normalising world views and lives different to your own.
Children and teenagers should be allowed to have in-depth, intelligent discussions about gender and sexuality, questioning stereotypes and gender roles and exploring the fluidity of expression from a young age. Given that the early teenage years are when most people begin questioning their sexuality/gender, much of the uncertainty, worry and mental health problems could be alleviated by reassuring young people that it is okay to be LGBTQ+ and making them aware of different identities.
However, I think it's important that we teach LGBTQ+ issues as part of other topics, rather than as separate lessons as it helps to integrate, rather than separate the LGBTQ+ community from everyone else.
So why is it important that we teach all of this?
Clearly, relationships and sex education is necessary for all pupils, and currently the curriculum is nearly 20 years old, created under Section 28 which prohibited schools from discussing or 'promoting' LGBTQ+ issues. According to the Stonewall School Report (PDF), two in five young people are never taught about LGBTQ+ issues and very few learnt about safe sex, consent or relationship abuse in relation to same-sex relationships. 77% of respondents had never been taught what 'trans' means or discussed gender identity at school.
The issue is even worse when looked at on a global scale. Countries which hold conservative views towards the LGBTQ+ community are very unlikely to teach about LGBTQ+ issues, thus furthering a divide in the population, worsening HBT violence and abuse and preventing LGBTQ+ people from seeking help or advice.