Recent reports that have been released by sexual health charities and organisations in the UK have also demonstrated that young people themselves have identified the need for LGBTQIA+ inclusive RSE. One report jointly authored by the sexual health charity Brook and the National Crime Agency's COEP command (Digital Romance) surveyed over 2,000 young people aged 14 and 25 in the UK (and 72% of them being aged 14-17) with disturbing findings being made; for example, LGBT young people use the Internet to meet partners "with significantly more gay young people (9.9%) reporting they met up with an online contact who was not who they said they were compared with straight young people (4.9%). On the quality of RSE generally, only 72% reported receiving any education on relationship skills and only 26% of those respondents rated it as good or very good (https://www.brook.org.uk/press-releases/digital-romance).
Secondly, there are a already number of RSE experts who have designed age-appropriate guidance and lesson plans to help primary school teachers who are PSHE and RSE leads in school deliver excellent lessons on LGBT+ related topics including gender identity. I don't think Mr Pascoe is aware of Professors Richard Woolley and Sacha Mason's book on delivering RSE to 5-11 year olds which includes how primary school teachers can answer challenging and embarrassing questions (I suggest he may peruse its contents a little....you can buy your copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Relationships-Sex-Education-5-11-Development/dp/1441190295). Deborah Price has written a great academic textbook that gives information and advice to Early Years professionals who want to talk about gender diversity and sexuality (https://www.jkp.com/uk/a-practical-guide-to-gender-diversity-and-sexuality-in-early-years-2.html). Lynnette Smith, MD and Founder of Big Talk Education opinion-eded in iNews, pointing out 2015 research which found that "children who have received age-appropriate RSE are three times more likely to speak out if something untoward is happening to them" (https://inews.co.uk/opinion/children-taught-sex-ed-age-four-11/). Smith then went on to suggest a blueprint for delivering age-appropriate RSE based on the Programme of Study RSE experts within her organisation have designed (emphasis on experts...something Mr Pascoe is not on this issue) which includes discussing gender identity.
Before I go on, there's something that I should draw everyone's attention to regarding appropriate use of terminology (something RSE leads will need to be given training on to deliver lessons on gender identity effectively): there's no such thing as "transgenderism". Transgender people are not espousing an ideology....it's a word that is used by critics to try and discredit trans activists from speaking out (e.g. about the need to design more trans inclusive medical service provision within the NHS). Critics like Mr Pascoe can debate with trans people based on ideology but the ideology he and others perhaps are taking issue with is Queer Theory and the debate should be between proponents of Queer Theory and proponents of Christian Fundamentalism (Pascoe) or Radical Feminism, all three of which may be taught about in secondary school at Key Stages 3, 4 and 5. Let's hope that Mr Pascoe will be inspired to investigate best RSE practice going forward and maybe listen to lived-in experiences of trans people before he passes judgement on yet another topic he doesn't really seem to know very much about (there's rather a lot of rent-a-gob hack opinion-eding going on at the moment, especially about trans people....perhaps it will reduce in the future as a result of LGBTQIA+ RSE...let's hope so!)
The Brook and CEOP Digital Romance report revealed that young people are using social media messaging platforms to connect with each other, in both positive and negative ways. Young people want RSE practitioners to recognise the benefits of digital romance-i.e. "not convey a general negativity about all things online" as well as celebrating the positive actions young people themselves are taking to educate others about online safety. Some young people see digital technology as allowing them to exercise positive control, "some freedom from negative judgements and pressures, and space to be authentic" (https://www.brook.org.uk/data/DR_REPORT_FINAL.pdf). However, it seems that sexting has become increasingly prevalent, with 34% of respondents stating they have sent a nude or sexual image to someone they were interested in, 52% stating they had received such an image and 26% of 14-17 year olds saying they had sent a nude or sexual selfie. More worryingly, 9% of respondents said they had sent a nude or sexual image onto someone else which wasn't of them and 28% had felt pressured into sending an image of themselves (https://www.brook.org.uk/data/DR_REPORT_FINAL.pdf) with girls feeling more pressured (36%) than boys (11%). RSE lessons should address this issue head on, ensuring that all young people understand why it is important not to share images of others without consent and build young people's confidence to call out the sending of nude images as being unsatisfactory. Brook suggests that schools work with partner organisations to develop "positive bystander'" programmes and empower young people through RSE to intervene and challenge "the negative attitudes and behaviours they witness", including breaking down gender stereotypes (i.e. young men talking to their friends about respecting their body and that of their friends and partners).
LGBTQIA+ young people need to be given the reassurance that if they ever find themselves in an abusive relationship, they will have services to turn to who will at least treat them with respect. At the same time, all young people should be participating in these lessons so they understand standards of acceptable behaviour in relationships.
As well as signposting for DVA, young people should know about what sexual health services are provided in their local area and how to access them. The Mancunion survey found that 26% of young people asked did not know where they could get tested and 33% had not been tested in the last 6 months. RSE leads in schools and NHS sexual health service providers should collaborate more regularly to increase awareness, whether that be organising annual visits to sexual health clinics so that secondary school students understand the sexual health check process and sexual health professionals can debunk myths around lack of confidentiality or designing innovative learning modules so that young people can visit the sexual health clinic without having to attend (using 360 pictures, videos etc). Sexual health professionals have valuable information to impart and such examples of collaboration in the past have been successful in encouraging attendance; for example there was a pilot of running mock sexual health clinics in Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham in 1995, where 300 pupils in Years 10-12 attended a sexual health clinic and learned how the clinic operated; by the end of the pilot year, there was an increase of 29.5% in under 16s registering at sexual health clinics in the area (Lucy Emmerson, Secondary Schools and sexual health services: Forging the links, 2003). Young people who are empowered to look after their sexual health when young will be more likely to continue to do so in the future.
RSE programmes will never be truly effective unless young people are involved in their design. As Ian Bauckham, who is leading the Government's review of RSE states in his article for The Telegraph, the consultation will only really be successful if it has managed to convince young people to contribute their opinions: "they (young people) will have important views and direct relevant experience which should help shape the decisions made on this topic" (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/2017/12/19/society-has-changed-children-need-compulsory-sex-relationship/). Some young people have already contributed to the debate; a group connected with Brook helped craft the Young Person's Manifesto for RSE, which gives 12 recommendations to create the "baseline for quality RSE". Recommendations include ensuring that regular RSE lessons are timetabled, that RSE "promotes equal, happy relationships" and that RSE leads and professionals feel OK with reacting to student's feedback and have been appropriately trained to do so (https://www.brook.org.uk/attachments/YP_Manifesto_2017.pdf). Other young people should be encouraged to contribute their views on RSE and the key to this is ensuring secondary school teachers, FE college lecturers, university lecturers and personal tutors, parents, guardians and carers and yes, maybe even the local parish priest, imam or rabbi publicise the survey and make students aware of it. The PSHE Association has even devised a lesson plan that can be used to encourage Key Stage 3 and 4 students to respond: https://www.pshe-association.org.uk/curriculum-and-resources/resources/department-education-pshe-and-rse-consultation-get. Posters, social media platforms including blogs and YouTube vlogs can all be mediums used to raise awareness, hence why I'm using my small but nicely formed platform. So please do encourage as many people as possible to take the online survey, which can be accessed here: https://consult.education.gov.uk/life-skills/pshe-rse-call-for-evidence/
You've got until February 12th 2018 to respond!