Should children be taught about Homosexuality in school?

Query: would it bother you if your child was taught about homosexuality or gender fluidity in school? How about in Primary school?

“Whatttttt” I hear some of you cry! Sexuality shouldn’t be mentioned at PRIMARY school, how very unbritish, wash your mouth out with some tea and a scone you heathen. You’d certain be screaming that if you were one of the many parents currently protesting the No Outsiders program in Birmingham. The program, developed by Andrew Moffat (whose own sexuality has been released into the public domain because someone decided it was relevant – which it isn’t) aims to teach children about diversity, from race to sexuality. I know, how savage. Why would you teach a child about sexuality? Well, because we do it every day.

From the moment a child is born, they start learning, and the vast majority of children in Britain learn that white, cis, heterosexual people are the “norm” and everyone else is… not. Don’t believe me? Let’s dissect.

Let’s use the ever popular, ever stab-your-eyes-out-dull Biff, Chip and Kipper books. Those three *delightful* kids are white skinned. Their parents are in a heterosexual relationship. They are the epitome of the nuclear family as we knew them 10, 20 and 50 years ago. Sure, they have side characters who are POC but as with a lot of literature that is used in schools and popular in modern Britain, these characters aren’t prominent, they aren’t the hero or heroine, they are side characters. In our children’s day to day school literature, by large, POC (people of colour) are reduced to a supporting role, and LBGTQ+ characters? Forget it. They are absent entirely. So, to revisit my point – we’re already teaching children via these very hetero/white/cis mediums. So what does this say to the child of colour who is looking for positive stories of black triumph? What does it say to the 9 year old boy who has already started to realise that he doesn’t get the flutter when he sees a girl in school he likes, but instead that he gets a flutter when he’s chatting with his friend Tim about their weekends?

I can honestly say that I would welcome my children (4, 6 and 7) to be taught about diversity, to be exposed to something other than the nuclear family of yester year. I’m not entirely sure what people who protest diversification of learning think is going to happen.

I’ve heard the following arguments:

  • They are too young. PRESERVE INNOCENCEEEEE – what a load of bollocks. Might I direct you’re attention to the popular children’s fairy tale Snow white. Her mum dies, her dad is murdered by her stepmother, her stepmother tries to make someone cut out her heart so that she can eat it and then she’s kissed, without consent in her sleep by some dude. Bish please, do not @ me with your preserve innocence bullshit. You mean preserve inequality and homophobia. Pfft. Call it what it is.
  • Children don’t need to know about sexuality, save it for when they are older – Actually, if you speak to most LBGTQ+ people, they will tell you that they knew pretty young that they didn’t have any attractions to opposite sex people. I think people confuse sexuality with sex, which I also think needs to be talked about more, but I’ll come on to that later.
  • It’s confusing for them and teaches them it’s ok to be gay – you’re right, it must be hellishly confusing to teach kids to be themselves. How dreadful. It IS ok to be gay, it’s ok to be different and we need to teach kids that.
  • It’s not the school’s place, it should be done at home or parent’s choice – Jesus wept, the amount of people who say this is mind boggling. How many children live in homes where they will never be exposed to anything beyond their own parameters? How do the next generation progress if it’s left to the previous, failing, generation to teach them exclusively? I realise not all parents are failing, but come on, the ones that are will have a fundamental impact on the future and it is NOT just homophobic parents that are causing an issue, it’s parents who don’t talk to their kids about diversity at all.

The No Outsiders project, which was founded in 2014, has been adopted across Birmingham because it’s been awarded “outstanding” by Ofsted and has paved the way for more programs to follow. The teacher who has developed the program has received threats and endless abuse for the above reasons, but I can’t fathom why anyone has an issue with their kids being taught that we are all different. This is not a class for 4 year olds to put the condom on the banana for Christ’s sake, it’s reading a story called Daddy, Daddy and Me. It’s not a class where 6 year olds are told that they should question whether they want to be a boy or a girl, it’s a class where they read Julian is a Mermaid and they have the opportunity to know that if they aren’t fitting into that “boys do this, girls do that” narrative that we are force fed from birth, that’s ok too.

On a further note, I have to question what our issue with teaching sex ed to younger children is and why heterosexual sex is all that is included in a loose curriculum for older kids. Our attitude towards sex in this country is perplexing. We do have sex, of that I’m convinced, how else would we Brits have built (and thankfully dismantled) an empire if we hadn’t been bumping uglies for generations in order to breed. Yet we also have sex for fun, and sex comes in a wide variety, as do relationships.

In The Netherlands, talking about sex at school happens in primary school, usually kindergarten and guess what? They have one of the lowest rates of STIs, teen pregnancy and abortion. Statistically they aren’t all rushing out to boink, but rather becoming sexually active at around 17, the same average age as an American teen. Talking to kids about sex in secondary school is too late, they are already aware of what sex is and learning about it from porn hub which is the equivalent of learning how to drive from GTA (thanks for that comparison Jamila Jamil).

On top of that, we aren’t talking about important topics when we do finally come around to the idea of talking about sex a decade too late. We aren’t talking about pleasure, we aren’t talking about self pleasure, we aren’t talking about unequivocal and enthusiastic consent. We aren’t talking about homosexual sex, we aren’t talking about transitioning and sex. We’re not doing enough.

To clarify I’m not suggesting we break out the Love Honey catalogue for a group of terrified 4 year olds, but rather that we cover the basic, minimal sex ed in a brief way (sperm comes from a male, eggs come from a female and makes a baby), and progress as children get older so that by the time they become sexually active they know how to be safe (whatever their preference), that there are many different types of sexual preference and that for the love of god they enjoy it and CONSENT to it. No 15 year old needs you to tell them about the birds and the bees, they already know, but they do need a better conversation about how not to get stung. Let’s make our schooling more equal, and let’s make our sex ed better and more relevant.

10 Comments

  1. HWW
    February 20, 2019 / 7:46 pm

    Amazing article and spot on. As a parent of a just started secondary school son, I agree that early discussions of all healthy relationships in a great idea. Our son’s peers were always tolerant and at times envious of his two female parents. Sex education begins with the basics and in gradually elaborated on, either when children ask more or when age appropriate. My son understood the basics from an early age as we discussed how babies are physically made. He wanted to know more so this expanded to a discussion of his own conception with did include questions about how sperm leaves the testicles. Trying to navigate rush hour traffic whilst discussing this did prove interesting!
    Thank you for a well rounded and articulate article.

  2. Linda
    February 20, 2019 / 4:02 pm

    I have always said to my children that love is love. That ladies love men or men love men or ladies love ladies, that it doesn’t matter as long as you are happy and feel loved and love back.
    My son is now 14 and has had crushes on girls since he was 6.- no encouragement from us it’s just how he is.
    My daughter is 11 and has never shown any interest in loving boys or girls.-still no encouragement from us.
    My other son is 7 and loved girls when he was 5 but they kept hugging and kissing him. He then decided girls were yuck and that he was going to marry a boy as they are more fun. Now he’s marrying a girl again but doesn’t know who as he hasn’t met her yet.-and yet again no encouragement from us.
    My youngest son has a friend who has 2 Daddys. He came home and asked if that was OK as another friend said it wasn’t. The class teacher had spoken to them all about it. I said it was definitely OK that his friend was very lucky to have two grown ups who loved each other and him.
    My brother came out as gay last year and no one batted an eye lid. The world can be a horrible place. People hurt each other and so many people suffer with mental health problems. Who you love or what gender you truly are doesn’t matter. Being happy and love does.

  3. February 20, 2019 / 10:51 am

    Sorry I don’t agree with this, you can hardly use Snow White to base your logic on. Children have not grown up to murder their parents or hurt people by watching this. Children will learn what there own preference is in their own time and there is no need to shove it in their faces at a young age which would only confuse them even more. teach them sex ed yes when old enough but why do we feel the need to say you can like boys or girls they will figure that out for themselves when they’re ready. I have nothing against those who are lgbtq my own father is transgender but there is a time and a place and i believe that to be in the home

    • Harriet February 20, 2019 / 2:26 pm

      Sorry, I don’t understand the first part of your comment “children don’ grow up to hurt people or murder their parents” – are you suggesting that teaching children its ok to have a daddy and a daddy will make them grow up to be… gay? Sexual preference isn’t a choice, you’re not going to “turn” a child.

    • Kirsty McDonald
      February 20, 2019 / 7:53 pm

      I think the point being very rightly made is that by ‘teaching’ about gender and sexuality from a young age normalises it, and I fully support making all children aware that whoever they are, whatever their preference, is normal. In fact, I would go as far as to say that we are not ‘teaching’ children anything because I think you are right, they will make their own decisions in their own time; what we are doing by bringing LGBTQ+ issues into the curriculum is showing children that they are no different and that they are valid. It is almost as if anything that doesn’t fit the heteronormative mould is wrong because it remains so much of a taboo as people try to sweep it under the carpet and pretend it is easy for LGBTQ+ youth to freely make their own decisions and express themselves. The suicide and self-harm rates for LGBTQ+ individuals is astronomically high and a big part of the reasoning behind their struggles is their not feeling like they belong, or that it is wrong to feel as they do. By allowing schools to simply make use of texts or videos or whatever media teachers choose to use that allow LGBTQ+ views as well as heteronormative views to filter into classrooms, it allows these vulnerable young people to be validated. We are not planning LGBTQ+ lessons so that on a Wednesday afternoon year 3 are spending 2 hours learning about LGBTQ+ issues; we are bringing these issues into a number of areas in the curriculum so that they become the no-big-deal issues they should be and they just simply become the accepted norm, as they should be.

    • Sam
      February 20, 2019 / 9:25 pm

      But it’s ok to shove heterosexuality into the faces of young children for their entire education? Representation of diversity is fair and right from any age. Open up the conversation for it to be continued at home.

  4. February 20, 2019 / 10:43 am

    This is awesome! I definitely think that this should be taught in primary schools, because that’s when children are most open and receptive to learning about equality. At the end of the day we are all human, and the younger we can get this message across to the next generation, the better for every generation to come!

  5. February 20, 2019 / 10:29 am

    This post was like reading from my own thoughts! Thank you! It is so beautifully written and genuine. Often it is only those in the LGBTQ+ community advocating for the normalisation of same sex relationships and same sex parenting. I’ve been questioned before how I will explain that I have a wife and not husband to younger family members, it went as followed with my three year old nephew;

    Roo: Is this yours & G’s bed?
    Me: It is, me & G got married and live together because we love each other, like Mummy & Daddy do.
    Roo: Ok, I love G too. Can we watch doggies (paw patrol) now?

    Often adults spend too much time wondering how children will react, whether it will impact them, but children are resilient and accepting. It’s sadely often adults who struggle. Thank you, your Insta posts are often insightful and interesting but this one really inspired me to comment ☺️

  6. February 20, 2019 / 8:00 am

    Oh my gosh. What an absolutely brilliant post, and I cannot thank you enough for writing it. It should not be up to the LGBTQ+ community to keep talking about things like this, but more often than not we are the ones – and it’s hard work, as you start to feel like a broken record.

    It’s so refreshing, and appreciated, to hear someone outside of the community talk so openly about this (not to mention agree that it’s bloody ridiculous). It certainly restores my faith in humanity.

    You’re a true ally.

    • Harriet February 20, 2019 / 10:12 am

      Thanks lovely, I hope so. I try really hard to be a good ally and I know sometimes I miss the mark but I genuinely do believe that we make the world a better place by making it more equal and diverse. x

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