Relationship Education in Schools

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:39 pm on 16th July 2019.

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Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Minister of State (Education) 12:39 pm, 16th July 2019

I pay tribute to the hon. Lady for her work locally to counter the kind of views expressed in those protests. Those protests, which intimidate children going to school and the teachers in those schools, are unacceptable, which is why we supported Birmingham City Council in taking out an interim injunction against the protests. Of course people have a right to protest, but they do not have a right to intimidate young children going to school.

The hon. Lady suggests, “If only we had changed the wording of the guidance to make it more of a requirement,” but I do not believe it would have prevented the protests at the Birmingham school. There is a segment of opinion at either end of this debate that will not be persuaded of the appropriateness of the guidance. Some people will never agree to LGBT issues being taught in schools. As such, I do not believe that requiring it in guidance to be taught at a specific age in primary schools would have prevented the protests.

We have been clear that we support primary schools and headteachers who wish to teach LGBT relationships and local authorities that take legal action against protests that have turned into intimidation of young people, but if we had taken the hon. Lady’s advice, we would not have had a consensus for the statutory guidance, there would have been opponents of the regulations as we took it through the House and another place, and we would not have achieved its acceptance by a raft of independent private schools that we wanted to be subject to the statutory guidance.