Education Secretary Damian Hinds appeared on Sky News this morning.
The interview covered a range of topics including the issue of protests at schools in Birmingham regarding the teaching of LGBT issues in schools.
The Education Secretary emphasised the importance of schools teaching about all types of relationships, in line with the recognised legal framework of our country, which enables everyone to live equally, free of judgement or discrimination.
Read the full transcript of his comments below:
Adam Boulton, Presenter: I think there’s strikes by parents in Birmingham today, saying that they’re withdrawing their children from schools because they believe that sex education lessons are proselytising for homosexuality, what do you say to those parents?
Damian Hinds: So look, I want schools and parents to be talking about, talking about these things. We’ve come a long way, actually, and from next year and the year after we’re going to have relationships education as a mandatory subject in, in primary schools. It’s about 20 years since the last time we updated the guidance on relationships and sex education, and a lot has changed in that time. Biggest single thing, of course, is the Internet and so, you know, these days, from a parent’s point of view, if you're not talking about issues at school, it doesn't mean the child isn't going to come into contact with them and I think it is important to be talking about those in a, in a safe space and I absolutely back head teachers in, in doing that.
AB: Because we do have a problem, don’t we? We have some people who, Christians, Muslims, who follow a particular religion and believe homosexuality is wrong. Yet the state is saying homosexuality is fine.
DH: Well Adam we live in a society where we have, you know, a legal framework that rightly protects different people through society and recognises, celebrates the fact that people are different. Of course, it’s also true that religion itself is a protected characteristic under the, under the equalities legislation but it is important that in school, you know, children are growing up knowing about modern Britain, knowing about the country in which, in which they are going to become adults.
AB: But how, how can you resolve this situation with, with parents? I mean, ultimately I suppose you could prosecute the parents for withholding their children?
DH: Well there is, there is really good dialogue going on in Birmingham and elsewhere. And I want that to continue, you know, we want schools and parents to be talking about these things. You know, there should be in the new relationships education curriculum that comes out and of course that hasn’t happened yet so these current issues are not around that. But that does, you know, you have to have consultation with parents, you have to, you know, publish details about, about the subject matter you’re going to be covering and so on, and actually having those conversations, I think, is really powerful because parents are the primary educators of children in these and, and other matters. But also, you know, parents do look to schools to help to support, you know it’s not something you do, not something any of us does on our own…
AB: I mean, but in this case the state education is disagreeing with parents?
DH: Well, what we’re doing is making sure that, you know, all children growing up, have, have an opportunity to find out about, discuss, the reality of, the reality of our society. You know, you can have a, a child in your class at school who might have same-sex parents, just as you’ll have, you can children who have, two parents, children who have single parents, children who come to school for, with their grandparents, children who are with foster carers, I mean, all sorts of different families, and I think it’s, you know, this is a thing to, to not only to recognise but to, but to celebrate. It is good to, it’s good to be talking about it.
AB: And how much, I mean we've had a lot of issues in Birmingham over the years, how serious do you think the problem still is of Islamic radicalisation being used within these schools?
DH: Well I think we have to be careful not to mix up different, different, different issues. But of course there can be some overlap between them. What I am really interested in is making sure that, you know, kids should be able to come to school, they shouldn’t have to walk pass protests to come to school. Teachers shouldn't have to walk past protests to come to school. We want schools and parents to be, to be talking. And that’s, that is what is happening in, in, in Birmingham, and I pay tribute to all those in Birmingham who are, who have made that happen and through that I think we can see progress.
The new Relationships and Sex Education curriculum will be mandatory in schools across the country from September 2020.