Gay and trans lessons for primary schools The Sunday Times 24.02.19

The original article is here.

Compulsory lessons to teach children from the age of five about gay and trans relationships will be outlined in guidance to head teachers to be published tomorrow.

The controversial new statutory guidance will also spell out for the first time the end of parents’ right to opt their children out of sex and relationships education classes in secondary school. The change will guarantee all children receive at least a term of lessons by the time they are 16.

The new classes will be introduced nationally in 2020 following a six-month consultation by the Department for Education.

Primary school pupils will learn about same-sex and trans families as well as staying safe online and developing “healthy, respectful relationships”. Secondary school pupils will receive classes on relationships and sex, including education about the “catastrophic” damage caused by female genital mutilation (FGM), the risks of sexting, online grooming, domestic violence and forced marriage.

Pupils will be told that FGM is illegal. Since July 2015, a total of 296 FGM protection orders have been made to protect girls at risk. Earlier this month, the mother of a three-year-old girl in east London became the first person to be found guilty of FGM in the UK.

The move by the education secretary, Damian Hinds, is likely to infuriate thousands of Jewish, Christian and Muslim parents. In Birmingham, a primary school using five picture books about LGBT relationships, including And Tango Makes Three, about a gay penguin couple bringing up a chick, is already being targeted by hundreds of protesters demanding the lessons be scrapped.

Tomorrow a petition signed by more than 100,000 people objecting to the new curriculum will be debated in parliament.

Campaigners argue the lessons are vital to protect children from an explosion of child sexual exploitation online. Growing numbers of children think sexting intimate photos to each other is part of a normal teenage relationship — it is in fact illegal under the age of 18.

Dozens of rabbis have also signed a letter protesting over faith schools having to teach children about “alternative lifestyles”. Geoffrey Alderman, an academic, said ultra-Orthodox Jewish parents were prepared to home-educate their children rather than accept the new compulsory classes in schools.

Faith groups that do not want their children taught about LGBT issues insist that teaching children about sexual relations should be left to parents, not teachers.

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