Years & Years singer Olly Alexander - LGBT education "will save lives"

Olly Alexander from Years & Years said LGBT education in primary schools will "save lives". Pic: Kevin Winter
Olly Alexander from Years & Years said LGBT education in primary schools will "save lives". Pic: Kevin Winter

LGBT education will "save lives" according to a Yorkshire singer, after a survey found 60 per cent of the British public back LGBT education in primary schools.

Olly Alexander, frontman of BRIT Award nominated band Years & Years, said he "felt extremely afraid" as a child knowing he was gay, as he did not have any education about LGBT relationships.

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Compulsory education about same-sex relationships has been added to the primary school curriculum from next year, with new research showing widespread support among the British public, despite high profile campaigns against it.

Scarborough MP and Secretary of State for Education Gavin Williamson has promised schools extra support, after pilot schools faced intimidation and threats from anti-LGBT groups.

The figures by nfpSynergy and commissioned by LGBT equality charity Stonewall, also showed two in five LGBT pupils are never taught anything about LGBT issues at school and 45 per cent of LGBT children still face bullying at school.

Mr Alexander, who was born in Harrogate, said: “When I was at school there was hardly any mention of LGBT people or our history. It was like we didn’t exist.

“I had an inkling I was gay from a young age and felt extremely afraid of what that would mean for me. LGBT-inclusive education would have made a huge difference in my life. All schools need LGBT-inclusive education, it can and will save lives. Every young person deserves an education that shows them it’s OK to just be themselves and that no matter someone’s sexuality or gender identity they deserve respect.”

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The new curriculum will formalise the education that is already taking place in many primary schools, which focuses on teaching children of the existence of same-sex relationships and combating playground homophobia.

Stonewall works with more than a thousand schools, including more than 600 faith schools, to deliver an LGBT-inclusive curriculum and tackle homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying in schools.

Paul Twocock, Stonewall’s chief executive, called on people from all walks of life to take a stance. He said: “LGBT-inclusive education is life-changing teaching for so many young people, which is why it’s so powerful to see so much of the British public support the new legislation.

“This move towards inclusive teaching marks the beginning of the end of the dark era that Stonewall has been working towards since we were founded 30 years ago. We owe it to the next generation to ensure our schools are a place where all children and young people can be themselves. It’s essential the Government invests more in training and resources to better prepare teachers and schools to deliver high-quality LGBT-inclusive teaching now and in the future.

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“We need more people from all walks of life to come out for LGBT people and be vocal in their support for inclusive education.”

Relationships education is about stopping LGBT young people from feeling alone, according to Ben Saunders, Stonewall’s 2019 Young Campaigner of the Year. He said: “LGBT-inclusive education makes a massive difference when you’re in school and you’re LGBT. So many people feel isolated and left out on their own because they’ve never learnt about being LGBT. “It can be the difference between deciding to turn up to lessons or not, and even the difference between holding out hope for the future or not.”