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New Education Guidance Draws Criticism: Gender Identity Teaching Banned in Schools

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Education Secretary Gillian Keegan has stated that gender identity 'should not be taught in schools at any age.' Keegan, who was responsible for the recently released draft statutory guidance on sex education, clarified that while gender reassignment should be included in school curricula, gender 'ideology' should not be taught as fact. The NSPCC has expressed criticism regarding the age restrictions outlined in the guidance.

By Claire Gilbody Dickerson, journalism correspondent

Thursday, May 16, 2024, 16:

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The Education Secretary has declared that gender identity "should not be included in school curriculums at any level," following the release of preliminary guidelines on relationships, sex, and health education (RSHE) this past Thursday.

The proposed guidelines for educational institutions in England were developed in response to worries about children encountering unsuitable material. The guidelines recommend that sexual education should not begin before year five, when students are around nine years old, and assert that the "disputed subject of gender identity" should be excluded from the curriculum altogether.

In her introductory remarks to the document, Gillian Keegan emphasized that the guidelines aim to provide children with appropriate information at the appropriate times while also protecting their "childhood innocence" by not exposing them to overly mature content prematurely.

The NSPCC expressed concerns about setting age restrictions, emphasizing the importance of enabling children and young people to "identify problems and reach out for assistance when necessary."

The children's charity emphasized that the current moment is ideal for integrating lessons on valuable life skills, instead of regressing on Relationship and Sex Education (RSE) in schools.

Ms. Keegan stated that although it is appropriate to educate on gender reassignment, schools should avoid discussing the debated topic of gender identity, specifically the concept that gender exists on a spectrum.

"Although topics like gender reassignment are important to cover, they should be taught factually, at a suitable age, and without reliance on disputed ideologies," she further stated.

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"Reports indicate students are learning about the existence of up to 72 different genders

Ms. Keegan initiated the investigation following reports from certain individuals that students were being instructed in the belief that there are "72 genders" and that gender can "change daily," presented as factual information.

Addressing parliament following the release of the guidelines, Labour's education spokesperson Catherine McKinnell remarked, "Educating our children about the realities of their world should encompass awareness that transgender individuals exist, that it's possible for people to transition their gender, and that there are legal provisions supporting this."

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Guidelines on detrimental sexual conduct released

The guidance specifies that topics such as the definition of damaging sexual conduct in relationships, understanding sexual harassment, revenge pornography, sexual abuse and exploitation, grooming, stalking, and coerced marriage should not be introduced until year seven (age 11).

The guidance suggests that while it's possible to address the dangers of unsuitable online material like pornography in a manner suitable for their age starting in year seven, conversations about specific sexual behaviors should be avoided until year nine (age 13).

In the realm of legal guidelines addressing sexual violence, such as rape and sexual assault, the provided directions emphasize the necessity for students to grasp the fundamental concepts associated with these crimes, including the definition of consent. However, it is advised that "schools should avoid any sexually explicit discussions of these topics prior to year nine."

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