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UK Government Tells Schools ‘Contested Theory of Gender Identity Will Not be Taught’

Teachers’ Union: ‘This is yet more culture war noise from an ill-informed and out of touch government’

UK Government Tells Schools ‘Contested Theory of Gender Identity Will Not be Taught’

A new proposal from the United Kingdom’s government has instructed schools to stop teaching children about gender theory.

A draft guidance issued by the Department for Education on Thursday cited “multiple reports of disturbing material” used in Relationships, Sex and Health Education (RSHE) lessons.

“Children will be protected from inappropriate teaching on sensitive topics thanks to new proposals from the government,” the guidance states. “The contested theory of gender identity will not be taught and the guidance confirms copyright law should not be a barrier to sharing curriculum materials with parents – with the updated curriculum open for an eight week consultation from today.”

The document aims to ensure the content of the lessons is “factual, appropriate and that children have the capacity to fully understand everything they are being taught.”

“Parents will have the right to see the resources that are being used to teach their children about relationships, health and sex in all circumstances and new age limits will be introduced so that children are not introduced to content they may not have the maturity to understand,” the guidance states.

Upon finalization, sex education will not be taught to students before Year 5, when children are nine to ten years old – “and at that point,” the guidance says, “from a purely scientific standpoint.”

During secondary school, which spans the ages of 11 to 18, students will learn about legally protected characteristics, which include gender reassignment and sexual orientation, but schools are not permitted to teach about gender identity.

“In light of the Cass Review, it is important that schools take a cautious approach to teaching about this sensitive topic, and do not use any materials that present contested views as fact, including the view that gender is a spectrum,” the guidance states. “This is in line with the Department’s gender questioning guidance, which also takes a cautious approach to assist teachers in ensuring they are acting in the best interests of children.”

“Britain’s Conservative government has increasingly leaned into the debate around gender, and previously ordered English schools to inform parents if their children want to transition gender,” POLITICO reports. “Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch has also announced a law that would require newly-built restaurants, offices and some other public spaces to have separate male and female toilets, in an effort to crack down on 'gender-neutral' toilets. Conservative MP Miriam Cates has led the charge for a rethink of sex education in schools.”

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he was “horrified” by reports of what occurred in classrooms last year.

“Parents rightly trust that when they send their children to school, they are kept safe and will not be exposed to disturbing content that is inappropriate for their age,” he said. “I will always act swiftly to protect our children and this new guidance will do exactly that, while supporting teachers to teach these important topics sensitively and giving parents access to curriculum content if they wish.”

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan said the purpose of the guidance is to protect children and ensure parents have the right to know what their children are being taught.

“Parents can be reassured once and for all their children will only learn age-appropriate content,” she added.

Daniel Kebede, General Secretary of the National Education Union, rebuked the new guidance, citing “many areas of concern.”

The Government appears to be seeding doubts that this is not already being done and thought about carefully by school leaders and teachers up and down the land,” he said in a statement. “This is yet more culture war noise from an ill-informed and out of touch Government.”

“Primary-aged children pick up information online and need the opportunity to discuss puberty and relationships and their bodies with trusted adults,” Kebede added. "Issues such as domestic violence can affect children from a young age and it is irresponsible to shut this conversation out until teenage years. We must also challenge widespread patterns like sexual bullying and homophobic bullying which start in primary, and all children must have the language to help them make disclosures where needed.”

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