Steve Hinkle's picture

UK Doctors Recognize the Importance of LGBTQ Education

If you were anything like me in school, you probably found sex-ed pointless because the teachers taught penis-in-vagina sex exclusively. I tuned out for most of the class because that kind of sex interests me none and I felt that LGBTQ people were being ignored. I was most assuredly not the only person to think this, as doctors in the UK released their responses to a change in the sex-ed curriculum and said that LGBTQ inclusive sex education should be an integral part of learning, according to Gay Times.

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, or RCPCH released their answers for questions 11-25 which concerned sex education in schools. Questions 1-10 were about the person taking the consultation and were thus not included. The pediatricians agreed that the sex-ed curriculum was age appropriate but not sufficient enough and suggested some changes.

Question 11 is in reference to primary school sex education. It reads:

"Do you agree that the content of Relationships Education as set out in paragraphs 50-57 of the guidance will provide primary school pupils with sufficient knowledge to help them have 
positive relationships?"

To which the doctors responded with that they disagree and listed five bullet points explaining their position. Most notably, their final bullet saying

"There needs to be a clear statement that LGBT people and relationships are part of teaching about healthy relationships in primary school. This can be demonstrated in relation to families – but also it is helpful to children to learn the meaning of terms such as lesbian, gay and bisexual."

I've always felt that it is important to be taught about the existence of LGBTQ people at an early age so as to normalize it so children and adults will less likely to have prejudices. In addition, being taught about LGBTQ identities can help a child who may be gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender that they are just as normal as heterosexual children. 

The other bullet points pertaining to question 11 include the doctors saying that they believe it is important that children are taught that their body is their own and nobody has the right to touch them unless they give consent, the emotional changes they should expect during puberty, and what constitutes abuse and how to report it. Consent is so important and for some reason so many people can't grasp the concept of it so teaching it at an early age can definitely be beneficial. 

The pediatricians also said that schools should focus on relationship education in relation to emotional wellbeing, starting with a whole school approach with teachers leading by example by displaying a positive relationship with parents, students, and coworkers, as they believe that fostering a healthy relationship with other people is incredibly important to one's mental health.

This is especially significant in that mental health is often ignored as LGBTQ people are approximately three times more likely to experience mental health problems than straight people due to prejudice and homophobia. Including mental health education with LGBTQ education may help people become more comfortable with themselves which can lead to a decrease in instances of anxiety and depression.

This report shows that people are definitely willing to include LGBTQ education in school curricula and that is a great sign. I worked for pediatricians for over seven years and they all agreed that LGBTQ identities were valid and should be normalized, so hopefully other American doctors facilitate change in regard to sex-ed in the United States, as it is seriously lacking in substance in some places.


h/t: Gay Times, National Alliance on Mental Illness