CEO Paul Martin OBE writes public letter to schools in Greater Manchester urging them to show their support
BY DANIELLE MUSTARDE
National charity the LGBT Foundation has spoken out in support of LGBTQI-inclusive education for all school children after reports that primary schools in the city have been contacted by parents, “unhappy over the lessons teaching children about LGBT rights.”
The reports follow similar news from from Birmingham earlier this month where a local school offering LGBTQI education stopped the inclusive lessons.
The No Outsiders programme had been taught at Parkfield Community School for four years and focused on teaching children about same-sex couples, however, many parents considered it “not age-appropriate” and “against religion.”
The school decided to end the lessons due to continued protests by parents and after nearly 80% of pupils were being kept at home in protest.
Today, Chief Executive of LGBT Foundation, Paul Martin OBE, has written a public letter to schools in Greater Manchester urging them to remember why LGBTQI-inclusive education is so very important for children of all ages.
“Today I am writing to ask for your support in speaking up for LGBT inclusive education for all school children.
“We believe that school should be a place where young people are able to grow and learn about themselves and others. It is a place where every child should feel they have a right to exist, love and be loved.
“The Greater Manchester Strategy, Our People, Our Place, states a commitment to ensuring that, ‘young people are equipped for life’, including ‘developing a curriculum for life’ and ensuring that ‘young people leave school ‘life ready’’.
“This must include learning about different ethnicities, faiths, backgrounds, gender identities and sexual orientations, the broad and rich diversity of people and experiences who make up our local communities.
“The No Outsiders programme, and other similar initiatives in Greater Manchester, promote tolerance, accepting difference and respect in schools, which in turn develop strong, cohesive, and tolerant adult communities.
“These lessons talk about the struggles that many of the protected groups under the Equality Act have experienced and how – by learning about and celebrating each other – we can build a better and more tolerant society.
“Evidence shows that a growing number of young people (currently 4.2% of 16-24 year olds) now identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual. This means it is more vital than ever that all young people are taught about healthy adult relationships, including LGBT families and relationships, from primary school age.
“The Government’s latest guidance ahead of changes to the curriculum next year supports the inclusion of teaching about LGBT families and relationships, expecting schools to ensure that, ‘all pupils understand the importance of equality and respect’ and that, ‘we expect all pupils to have been taught LGBT content at a timely point.’
“Not teaching children about being LGBT will not change young peoples’ sexual orientation or gender identity. What it may mean is that young LGBT people aren’t able to come out, or create confusion and shame about their identity.
“The introduction of Section 28 in schools – where schools were banned from teaching about LGBT relationships – had a devastating effect on many LGBT people in the UK, with many people speaking about the long term impact the legislation had on their mental health, or ability to accept and love who they are.
“Greater Manchester LGBT activists and allies were at the forefront of the campaign against Section 28 and so it’s fitting that our city-region should be leading the way in favour of equality, acceptance and inclusion for all young people.
“In an uncertain time for European and global politics, we must draw on and embrace the values that unite us, not divide us.
“In the midst of this debate we must also recognise the experiences of the many people of faith who are also LGBT, and the fact that many have found love and acceptance in both their religious and LGBT communities. But an open dialogue to have those conversations, and the recognition of the value of a fair and equal society for all, is critical to this.
“We therefore ask if you will stand in solidarity with us, with the thousands of young LGBT people, parents of LGBT children, and the 215,000 LGBT people in Greater Manchester to publicly state your support for LGBT inclusive education for all children.
“We welcome and value your support and voice on this issue, thank you,” Paul Martin OBE, Chief Executive, LGBT Foundation.
Responding, Lewis Addlington-Lee, Deputy Chair of the British Youth Council added:
“We believe in defending, promoting, and advocating for the rights of the LGBT+ Community in the UK and internationally.
“It’s upsetting to hear about the sustained opposition from a minority but we must recognise the importance of a curriculum which is inclusive.
“All schools across the country should be teaching relationship and sex education in a way which is inclusive of the LGBT+ community without exception.
“Children should be able to learn about all types of identities and relationships from a young age so this institutionalised discrimination can be brought to an end.”
For more visit lgbt.foundation. Show your support by retweeting Paul’s letter on Twitter (the LGBT Foundation have created a template here) and writing to you own MPs to express your support of LGBTQI-inclusive education #NoOutsiders
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