CHESHIRE West and Chester Council has thrown its support behind LGBT-inclusive education and is urging Government to give teachers the training and resources they need.

From September, all schools in England will have a legal duty to teach relationships education that is inclusive of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, while secondary schools will also teach LGBT-inclusive sex education.

It is hoped the lessons will foster a more inclusive and equal society, with nearly half of all LGBT schoolchildren still facing bullying for being who they are, according to the charity Stonewall.

Cllr Gareth Gould, Labour, spoke of the importance of inclusive education and how it differs from his own experience of growing up in the era of Section 28 – legislation passed in 1988 that effectively banned discussion of LGBT issues, before it was repealed in 2003.

He told Tuesday’s full council meeting: “Discerning my sexuality at primary school, I was aware of my overwhelming feelings, yet dealt with them alone.

Winsford Guardian:

“From 1989 I could see my secondary teachers knew I was struggling with emotional burdens – but partially due to that restrictive legislation, not in a position to help me.”

Members overwhelmingly approved a motion brought to the meeting, which confirmed the council’s support for LGBT-inclusive education and the No Outsiders programme, which promotes equality.

The council will also write to MPs, asking them to lobby Government to provide the necessary training and resources for teachers, and ask parents and governors to write to schools supporting the introduction of the lessons.

Cllr Andrew Dawson, Conservative, said: “It’s all about the children, it’s all about them being comfortable in their skin.

Winsford Guardian:

“It’s very important that we as a council make it absolutely clear that we love and respect everyone. It doesn’t matter who they are, what they are, what colour – we are all equal, we all deserve equal respect.”

More than half of schools in Cheshire West are already running the No Outsiders programme, which has been championed locally by Simon Kidwell, headteacher at Hartford Manor.

While most councillors supported the motion, Cllr Lynn Gibbon, Conservative member for Marbury, raised concerns that compulsory LGBT-inclusive education could be ‘too much too soon for some young people’.

Winsford Guardian:

She added: “In some cases, it leaves parents and guardians with a dilemma – whether to agree or not for their children to be taught about different relationships, rather than learn it at their own pace with their families.”

But Cllr Gibbon’s comments were challenged by other members, including Cllr Nicole Meardon, cabinet member for children and families.

The Labour member for Sutton Villages said: “I think you would be hard-pressed to find a school where some of the children don’t have two mums or two dads – what are we saying to their children if we are ignoring the fact that relationships come in all different shapes and sizes?

Winsford Guardian:

“I’ve had lots of letters from parents over the last five years in my role, and not one of them has expressed dissatisfaction about their children learning about this. In fact, they are asking that our sex and relationships education is even more inclusive.

“And as a mum myself, the thought that my child could go to school and feel ashamed of who they are because of who they fancy is absolutely devastating.”

READ > Housing blueprint set for review with focus on new infrastructure and flood risk

Following the vote, Mr Kidwell wrote on Twitter that he is ‘incredibly proud of the way CWAC schools have embraced No Outsiders’.