Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to raise the important issue of parental involvement in primary school pupils learning about the Equality Act, which was passed in 2010. The Act, which I welcomed, supported and voted for, has nine protected characteristics: age; disability; gender assignment; marriage and civil partnerships; pregnancy and maternity; race; religion or belief; sex; and sexual orientation. Accompanying the words of the Act is guidance, and the “Sex and Relationship Education Guidance 2000” is also referred to and relevant. In particular, paragraph 1.13 states:
“In the early primary school years, education about relationships needs to focus on friendship, bullying and the building of self-esteem.”
Paragraph 1.31 further states:
“Sexual orientation and what is taught in schools is an area of concern for some parents. Schools that liaise closely with parents when developing their sex and relationship education policy and programme should be able to reassure parents of the content of the programme and the context in which it will be presented.”
The Children and Social Work Act 2017, which I supported and voted for, puts relationships and sex education on a statutory footing and requires all primary schools to teach age-appropriate relationship education.