The UK Conservative government has decided to include lessons on homosexuality and transgenderism for primary students, Relationships and Sex education(RSE) at secondary school, and health education for all ages and will become compulsory from 2020.
Despite an official petition against the move, signed by over 100,000, The Department for Education(DfE) has unveiled fresh guidelines for sex and health education with relationships across England, cyber safety and mental health all set to be included as part of the new curriculum.
According to state education guidelines, secondary school pupils will be taught about female genital mutilation (FGM) with a focus on awareness over its illegality and the availability of support networks.
Students aged 11 and older should also be taught about other forms of “honour-based” abuse, as well as grooming, forced marriage and domestic abuse, the DfE said.
“Almost twenty years on from the last time guidance on sex education was updated, there is a lot to catch up on,” said the education secretary, Damian Hinds.
“Although sex education is only mandatory to teach at secondary, it must be grounded in a firm understanding and valuing of positive relationships, and respect for others, from primary age.”
“In turn positive relationships are connected with good mental health, which itself is linked with physical wellbeing. So it is appropriate to make health education universal alongside relationships and sex education.”
Rachel Krys, the co-director of the End Violence Against Women coalition, urged the government to make clear that the new guidance would include mandatory teaching on sex and sexuality, stereotypes about men and women, the law on consent and LGBT equality.
“Reports of sexual violence and harassment in schools are increasing, but the DfE’s previous plans included worrying references to ‘virtues’, and suggested children be taught about resisting or managing peer pressure,” she said.