Quakers press for more support to LGBT+ education

Two Quaker groups have signed a letter calling for more support for schools promoting the acceptance of LGBT+ education

Members of the Quaker Values in Education group and the Quaker Gender and Sexual Diversity Community have signed a letter calling on the government to step up its support to schools promoting the acceptance of LGBT+ education.

Quakers joined nearly eighty signatories to a letter sent to then-education secretary Damian Hinds and published in The Independent on 14 July, following months of protests outside primary schools against LGBT+ lessons.

According to the letter – signed by author Philip Pullman and Tory MP Crispin Blunt, educationalists and religious figures – new government guidance that says primary schools are encouraged to cover LGBT+ content if they consider it ‘age appropriate’ is ‘weakly ambiguous’ and open to interpretation: ‘Statements such as these, combined with half-hearted support for schools that are being attacked, has left many teachers exposed.’

It adds: ‘The requirement for schools to promote inclusivity between people of different characteristics is a vital part of our society’s equality and human rights framework, and helps us to forge a better society in which all may fully contribute.’

The letter came as parents regrouped outside Parkfield Community School in Birmingham to continue protesting against the school’s decision to bring back a suspended equality programme after months of consultation.

The ongoing demonstrations have sparked protests at other primary schools, with one assistant headteacher who brought in a diversity programme receiving a death threat. In the ‘No Outsiders’ programme children learn about same-sex relationships through stories.

Under the new proposals, updated after twenty years, Relationships Education will be compulsory in primary schools and Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) compulsory in secondary schools from September 2020. The changes require secondary schools to include content on LGBT+ relationships, but there is no specific requirement for primary schools.

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