Students in the U.K. will have to take mandatory classes about sex that include lessons on gay and transgender issues.
Starting in September 2019, all 5- to 16-year-old students will be required to take sex ed classes that are sensitive to all sexualities and identities, according to a Tuesday announcement from the U.K.’s Department of Education, the Telegraph reports.
The Department of Education explained it is also analyzing exactly what material will make up the new program and fully “expect[s] all schools to ensure that young people, whatever their developing sexuality or identity” feel comfortable with the program.
Many gay, transgender and queer activists, and some parents are happy with the new program. “We very much welcome the opportunity for all teachers, parents and young people to feed in their views on what relationships and sex education should look like,” said an LGBTQ Stonewall spokesperson, according to the Telegraph.
Others are skeptical of the program’s appropriateness for such young children and don’t think children who don’t even have a firm grasp of vocabulary and numbers should be taught such material. “There is no ‘age-appropriate’ way to teach primary school age children about homosexual relationships or transgenderism,” Campaign Director of the Coalition for Marriage, Thomas Pascoe, told the Telegraph.
He posits that schools including various sexual preferences in educational programs when students are not old enough to understand such concepts fully is not appropriate. “We should be teaching young children broad values of respect and tolerance, not ordering them to accept adult sexual relationships which they are far too young to understand,” he added.
The launch of these mandatory inclusive sex ed classes comes after U.K. schools recently began adopting a “Good Schools Guide” (GSG) to rate whether their teachers and policies are transgender friendly. The move came after some parents expressed discontent over school policies regarding transgender students and removed their transgender children from U.K. public schools, citing inadequate protection and anti-discrimination policies as the main reasons for pulling their children out of the school system.
“Over about the last 18 months or so, I have noticed this issue building up,” said Bernadette John, a director at the guide’s consulting service, according to the Telegraph. “Families are coming to us when they feel they are left with no option but to pull their transgender child out of a school.” Inspectors from the Good Schools Guide (GSG) will also be testing school principals and teachers on how they address issues that arise from having transgender students in the classroom. (RELATED: Schools Now Getting Rated On How Friendly They Are To Trans Kids).
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