Sex education lessons ignore gay and lesbian relationships, research says

The Independent is reporting new research that suggests sex education lessons in schools are ignoring gay and lesbian relationships.

Teachers often talk to boys about “girlfriends” and girls about “boyfriends” when it would be better to use the term “partner”, said a senior academic involved with the research.

The researchers, from Birmingham City and Sheffield Hallam universities, said teachers almost always depicted young people as heterosexual – despite claiming their lessons were inclusive of sexual diversities…

The researchers said the teachers tended to talk about sex only in terms of heterosexual sex whereas they need “to be more open about discussing sex”.

Keeley Abbott, lecturer in social psychology at Birmingham City University and lead researcher, said: “Our findings highlight a lack of understanding amongst teachers around what constitutes real inclusivity within the context of sex and relationships education.

“Lesbian, gay and bisexual students could be left vulnerable here with a lack of any sex education that is relevant to them.”

Dr Sonja Ellis, lecturer in psychology at Sheffield Hallam University, said teachers should consider whether the terms the use encourage a heterosexual norm and that “they should be using words such as ‘partner’ instead of ‘boyfriend’ or ‘girlfriend’”.

Academics add that ignoring gay and lesbian relationships makes it difficult for pupils to have confidence that issues such as homophobia will be dealt with in schools…

More at: Sex education lessons ignore gay and lesbian relationships, research says


The paper is published in the Journal of Homosexuality and can be purchased online at: “We Don’t Get Into All That”: An Analysis of How Teachers Uphold Heteronormative Sex and Relationship Education


Your thoughts on the issues raised here? 

Are the criticisms valid and, if so, should guidance insist schools handle SRE more inclusively, or might that in turn cause problems at some schools (or amongst some parents)?

Please give us your reactions and feedback in the comments or via Twitter… 


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  1. viewthrudifeyes

    InspectorMuso SchoolsImprove stonewalluk training is fab! Our STC days on LGBT issues have been transformed as a result!

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