400 parents signed a petition demanding a school in Birmingham drop homosexuality from being mentioned as part of a special sex education programme they are running.
Andrew Moffat, the assistant headteacher of the a British state school, claims he has also been threatened and targeted via a leaflet campaign after the school started the new program as part of sex and relationship education lessons.
The idea behind the program is to promote LGBT equality and challenge homophobia in primary schools. Children from reception age through to year 6 were being taught topics to meet requirements in the Equality Act which included reading books such as Mommy, Mama and Me and King & King – stories about same-sex relationships and marriages.
However, following the launch of the programme, some parents gathered outside the school gates to protest, while others removed their children from the school stating “it’s inappropriate” and “totally wrong”. Many parents felt that the subject is “confusing” for primary school aged children and would open the door to discussing topics that are not suited for children at that age.
One mother, took her 10-year-old daughter out of the school saying “we don’t send our children to school to learn about LGBT+, we send them to school to learn maths, science and English”.
Here’s what I think:
For one, I think that parents who think their kids don’t know about sex or related issues at the age of ten are kidding themselves. In fact, I would bet that most eight year olds know more than most of us would assume, and that’s probably right about most seven year olds too. I base this on my own experience and refer back to when I was ten and my mom sat me down to have ‘the talk’ and I already knew everything there was to know. This was in 1985, before YouTube and Pornhub. Before smart phones and the endless information our children have at their fingers tips, so yeah – you can bet your life that our kids know a whole lot more than we did at their age.
Secondly, whilst I agree that schools’ first job is to teach our children maths, science and English, I also think it’s their job to promote and teach tolerance and acceptance of others. Personally I think if school taught more of that and less algebra, the world would be a better place. I also believe that there are things teachers see at school that us parents know very little about. Like bullying on the playground, which later turns into bullying online and in WhatsApp groups. So yes, it’s their job to address it and the best way to fight ignorance is with education!
Just a few days ago my eldest asked me what the word “gay” meant because someone was calling a little boy “gay” on the playground and she wanted to know if it meant “stupid”.
She asked me this at 7am, three seconds after I had opened my eyes. I was still lying in bed and hadn’t even brushed my teeth yet. Funny how they always ask you the hard questions when you least expect it, right? Only I didn’t see it as a hard question. I don’t think explaining to a seven year old that some men love men and some women love women is complicated at all, you know why? Because love is love, and that’s all there is to it. I can tell you that she sure as hell did not seem “confused” after I explained it. I didn’t make it into a big deal, didn’t go into details either, and guess what? three seconds later she was yapping about something else.
Now I respect the fact that not everyone feels comfortable talking about these sort of topics with their children. Personally, my motto has always been that I would much prefer be the one they got their information. And yes, I realise that age should be considered, I choose my words and it is an ongoing conversation because ‘the talk” can’t really be just ONE talk but rather a series of talks.
My point is – it’s only a “confusing” topic if whoever is talking about it is confused.
People can continue burying their heads in the sand and pretend like the LGBT community does not exist, but it’s just a matter of time before their kids become aware of it and I wonder – wouldn’t it be better if it’s clearly a struggle, that it was taught by the school as part of a program that promotes tolerance and equality?
I know many parents feel like its taking away their choice and that schools should not decided what to teach children about such “delicate” topics, but the fact is that most schools already include sex education in their program, and the reason that was brought in was because not enough parents were talking to their kids about sex. I guess the same goes about LGBT and real question is – should it be included?
My opinion is – yes, 100%.
What do you think?