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DUP MPs vote against LGBT education in English schools

Jim Shannon
Jim Shannon

DUP MPs were among 21 members of the House of Commons to vote against the introduction of new laws making it mandatory to educate children, in England only, on same-sex relationships.

MPs voted overwhelming by 538 to 21 in favour of adopting the new legislation which will update sex and relationship guidance for schools from 2000.

It will require the teaching of compulsory relationships education for all primary and secondary school pupils. Sex education is also to be taught in secondary schools but parents will be allowed to withdraw their children from that element. The school curriculum will change, for England only on this bill, from 2020.

Schools in England have suspended a programme for the teaching of respect for LGBT relationships in the classroom following protests from parents.

"The regulations represent an historic step that will equip children and young people with the knowledge they need to lead safe, healthy and happy lives," said Minister for School Standards on introducing the bill in the Commons.

DUP MPs Ian Paisley, Emma Little Pengelly and David Simpson were the only members of the party not to take part in the subsequent vote on the matter.

MP Jim Shannon took part in the debate. He raised concern about the "right of parents" to withdraw children from the lessons saying he had received "considerable correspondence" on the issue.

"The Government’s proposed changes will put parents and teachers in an impossible situation," he told the Commons.

"In some cases, I suspect that it will put them on a collision course. Teachers are being told that they must teach relationships and sex education in an integrated way and that, if necessary, they should be able to remove young people from some parts of their lessons, but not others.

"As I see it, the Government could address the problem by amending the regulations, either to mandate that sex education and relationship education be taught as two separate subjects or to ensure that the right of withdrawal continues to cover both sex education and relationships education.

"The latter decision seems to me more sensible and would be very easy to make."

The DUP has been approached for a comment.

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