56 leaders and members of religious and belief groups, educationists, campaigners and others have signed a letter to the Department for Education calling on the government not to dilute its draft advice for independent schools to teach children about LGBT equality and acceptance. The letter states:
…we are concerned by reports that the Department for Education is planning to dilute the advice it publishes on the independent school standards, to no longer stipulate that all independent schools must teach respect for LGBT people. This poses a significant safeguarding risk to LGBT young people, who are still subject to significant levels of homophobic, biphobic, and transphobic bullying.
45% of LGBT pupils experience bullying because of their identity, while a majority of LGBT pupils hear discriminatory language at school. The draft advice, due to be formally issued later this year, states that school children should be aware of the ‘protected characteristics’ which exist under the Equality Act 2010, including sexuality and gender identity.
Some faith communities have rejected the advice and some have expressed concern that basic religious freedoms are under threat by the draft advice. The letter comes not long after 400 parents signed a petition calling for a Birmingham school’s ‘No Outsiders’ scheme to be scrapped, which taught children about LGBT equality and challenged homophobia in primary schools.
The letter is signed by several individuals from religious and belief groups, and makes clear that “being LGBT and having a religion are not mutually exclusive.”
The signatories urge the secretary of state to ensure that all children are allowed to thrive in school and to promote encouragement of LGBT+ acceptance.