LGBT Youth Scotland Joins Educators and Charities to Back New Guidance on Relationships, Sexual Health and Parenthood Education

LGBT Youth Scotland joins Scotland's educators and children's advocates in backing new Government advice on teaching same-sex relationships in sex education classes.

In a letter to the Sunday Herald, Scotland's Commissioner for Children and Young People, Tam Baillie, welcomed the guidance issued in December by the Scottish Government.

The guidelines on Relationships, Sexual Health and Parenthood Education (RSHPE), last updated 14 years ago, were revised most notably to include teaching about same-sex relationships and civil partnerships.

The letter read:

"WE write to welcome the Government's publication of the guidance on Relationships, Sexual Health and Parenthood Education (RSHPE) in Scottish Schools.

This provided a critical opportunity to promote children's rights, safety and wellbeing in line with the Scottish Government's recently strengthened focus on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and the Getting It Right for Every Child (GIRFEC) agenda and we are pleased that the Government has put this into practice.

We strongly support this new guidance which applies to all children and young people in all schools and helps to equip them with full, accurate and evidence-based information; promotes respectful and compassionate attitudes that recognise the impact that gender stereotypes can have upon relationships; and supports safe, informed, responsible and healthy choices about their relationships and emotional and sexual health and wellbeing.

Recent surveys have revealed highly problematic attitudes to sexual consent and autonomy among young people in the UK, while high-profile cases of Child Sexual Exploitation and sexual abuse have highlighted the importance of ensuring that education in schools helps to equip children and young people with information to help keep themselves safe.

There is extensive evidence which points towards the view that high-quality RSHP education contributes to a reduction in teenage pregnancy, delays onset of sexual activity, increases the likelihood of the use of contraception and protection when they do start sexual relationships, and to a reduction of sexual relationships under coercive circumstances.

We recognise that teaching staff across Scotland have an important and often challenging role in informing children and young people about these issues. We welcome the focus on the need for high-quality training for teachers and support staff, which should be delivered in collaboration with school nurses, youth workers, voluntary sector agencies and other public health professionals, so that they feel comfortable and supported in the delivery of positive lessons relating to RSHP education.

Now that we have this guidance, the next step is its comprehensive implementation.

Local authorities need to ensure that this guidance becomes a reality in all our schools. Supporting Head Teachers and teaching staff to roll out RSHP education must become a priority for all Directors of Education in Scotland so that our children and young people can be equipped with full, accurate and evidence-based information to help protect them from harm and to aid positive decision -making."

Supported by:

Tam Baillie, Scotland's Commissioner for Children and Young People; Carol Ball, Chairperson Education Issues Group, UNISON Scotland; Jackie Brock, Chief Executive, Children in Scotland; Clare Cable, Chief Executive and Nurse Director, Queen's Nursing Institute, Scotland; Louise Cameron, Chair, Scottish Youth Parliament; Alex Cole-Hamilton, Head of Policy, Aberlour Child Care Trust,; Martin Crewe, Director, Barnardo's Scotland; Maura Daly, Operations Manager, Circle; Jennifer Davidson, Director, CELCIS; Duncan Dunlop, Chief Executive, Who Cares? Scotland; Larry Flanagan, General Secretary, The Educational Institute of Scotland; Matt Forde, National Head of Service, NSPCC Scotland; Dr Peter Fowlie, Scottish Officer for the Royal College of Paediatrics & Child Health; Theresa Fyffe, Director, Royal College of Nursing Scotland; Deborah Gold, Chief Executive, National AIDS Trust; Hawys Kilday, Chief Executive, Caledonia Youth; Colin Macfarlane, Director, Stonewall Scotland; Dr Miles Mack, Chair, Royal College of General Practitioners (Scotland); Mhairi McMillan, Policy Director, LGBT Youth Scotland; Angela Morgan, Chief Executive, Includem Dana O'Dwyer, Chief Executive, Capability Scotland; Satwat Rehman, Director, One Parent Families Scotland; Clare Simpson, Project Manager, Parenting Across Scotland; Jim Sweeney, Chief Executive, Youthlink Scotland; Professor Julie Taylor, Director, University of Edinburgh/ NSPCC Child Protection Research Centre; Alison Todd, Chief Executive, Children 1st

Laura Tomson, Director, Zero Tolerance; George Valiotis, Chief Executive Officer, HIV Scotland.