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Schools 'can' teach about queer families, but they don't yet 'have' to
Queer Gaze Queer women

Schools 'can' teach about queer families, but they don't yet 'have' to

Grace Latter Writer, blogger, sex positive, body love advocate SHE/Her queer/demiromantic, chronically ill

I try to remember when I first realised I was Queer, but I can’t pinpoint the exact moment.

I grew up in a small town (have you seen ‘Gilmore Girls’? Yep, that!) and went to a religious primary school. There, we were taught from a worryingly young age that boys like girls and girls like boys.

They get married, have babies and all live happily ever after (in a cute little cottage in a quaint cul-de-sac close to a good school and church). That’s what life is.

Woe betide you if you stray from that happy happy path and try anything different. ‘Different’, here meaning: gender equality, choosing not to have children, and all things LGBTQIA+.

We were never taught about Queer sex or relationships at school. We were barely taught about hetero sex really, either. Just how to make babies and how to NOT make babies – put a condom on a banana, and you’re sorted.

I wish I’d had access to the number of books coming out now with queer, trans and non-binary characters.

From ‘The Strangeworlds Travel Agency’ trilogy to Benjamin Dean’s debut novel ‘Me, My Dad and the End of the Rainbow’, and a recently dubbed Waterstones Book of the Month by Louie Stowell, ‘Loki: A Bad God’s Guide to Being Good’. I am so excited about the changes happening in middle-grade fiction these days. The diversity that came about in Young Adult fiction many years ago is finally trickling down.

There are more books and resources around for schools now too, like Pop’n’Olly, whose books with easy to read kids stories about equality and diversity, have been sent to schools all over the country.

I am also thrilled to see that there are teachers around now who understand how important it is for young folks to see all sorts of humans and relationships; to know that it’s not the same for everyone, and there’s no such thing as ‘normal’.

That’s thanks to a change in the curriculum in 2019, which sees age-appropriate Relationship Education (RE) taught in primary schools, and Relationship and Sex Education (RSE) is taught in secondary schools.

Yes, it’s wonderful that schools now can teach about other types of families, including queer ones. But, they don’t yet have to.

This kind of omission really shouldn’t be happening. As Stonewall says, ‘All LGBTQIA+ children and young people deserve an education that reflects who they are’.

The good news? This new relationship and sex education curriculum is up for review this year.

We’ve come so far already, folks. We can’t stop here. Do it for the kids out there in the world today - and for the kids we once were.

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