Updated sex lessons to include pornography, consent and online safety

Teenagers will be taught about pornography, consent and online safety in school as part of compulsory new lessons on relationships, sex and health.

Councillors were told that changes to the law meant that primary school children would be required to have lessons in relationships and health from September.

And secondary school students would be required to have lessons in relationships, sex and health.

The changes to the rules about personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education also place more emphasis on mental health and topics such as sleep education.

Members of a Brighton and Hove City Council committee were told that local schools would be encouraged to offer an extended curriculum.

Schools would also be sent a statement that said: “Our city is well-known for its free thinking, open and inclusive nature.

“We promote acceptance and respect for difference. These things are at the heart of what we do.”

But some parents in Birmingham held protests outside a school there last year over lessons about LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) equality until banned by the High Court.

A report to the council’s Children, Young People and Skills Committee said: “Guidance for schools produced locally will continue to promote LGBT-inclusive approaches.

“We believe this helps

  • prevent sexism, homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying
  • supports wellbeing and
  • ensures all pupils and students are prepared for life and work in the modern world

“Guidance will also encourage schools to improve the way the PSHE curriculum is used to challenge other forms of prejudice.

“These include racism, religiously motivated hate and that directed towards people with disabilities.”

The committee held a “virtual” meeting yesterday (Monday 15 June) when it agreed to recommend a programme of study drawn up by the PSHE Association, which represents professionals who teach the subject.

Councillors were told that it went beyond what was required by law and looked at economic wellbeing, financial management, the workplace and careers.

Conservative councillor Alistair McNair asked about consultation with Brighton and Hove’s various faith and ethnic minority communities.

PSHE specialist Sam Beal said that she would welcome the opportunity for discussions with the faith council, Brighton and Hove Faith in Action.

She said that she had looked at local policies with senior representatives from St Mary and St Abraam Coptic Orthodox Church, Al-Medinah Mosque, the Jewish community and several evangelical churches.

Councillor Sarah Nield

Carlton Hill Primary School inclusion co-ordinator Isabel Reid, the National Children’s Bureau Relationships and Sex Education Teacher of the Year, said that she had held multicultural coffee mornings with people of various nationalities and with Arabic speaking and Asian parents.

Green councillor Sarah Nield said that she was proud to see her what her two young children were already learning about families and life at school.

It was, she said, vital to end the prejudice and bullying seen by her generation.

Councillor Nield said: “The work our schools are doing in this city to combat homophobic and trans bullying is an extremely important part of the children’s education.

“For children who are gay or trans themselves, or come from a family with two mums or two dads, it is vital for them to see themselves represented, included and accepted.

“For the other kids, it’s just a fact they will find themselves at various points in classes with children who are gay, trans or have same-sex parents.”

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