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| January 19, 2019

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Caroline Lucas’s Plans For Sex Education Scuppered by Tories

Caroline Lucas
Pete Humphreys

MP for Brighton Pavilion Caroline Lucas has accused Conservative MPs of filibustering a bill which would make Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE) compulsory in all schools across England and Wales.

The bill would force state-funded Academies and Free Schools, who are not currently required to teach PSHE, to educate students about subjects like sex, drugs and mental health.

Her latest bill, which was set to be debated at in the Commons at 9:30am last Friday, would require all state-funded schools to teach LGBT-inclusive sex education in a way that “promotes equality” and “encourages acceptance of diversity and difference”.

However, Tory MPs made lengthy speeches about a bill decriminalising homosexual sex in the navy, which was first on the agenda, leaving the Green MP less than five minutes to talk about her draft legislation, meaning that it had no chance of eventually becoming law.

Lucas took to twitter to complain that her bill had been filibustered, accusing Tory MPs of talking unnecessarily about the previous bill in order to scupper her own.

She Tweeted: “OK. I can’t be quiet about this anymore. The #Tories are filibustering my #PSHEBill by endlessly debating a Bill no-one disagrees with. No opposition to LGBT rights bill being debated (I support it), so no need for further debate. Tories time-wasting.

“When one in four UK women experience domestic violence in their lifetimes, surely a debate about #PSHE is worthwhile? To young people looking at #Parliament today: I’m sorry. Some of us want to talk about your education. Others simply don’t care.

“This (uncontroversial) Bill is about LGBT rights, so is #PSHEBill. If Tories really cared surely they’d want to discuss & support it?”

Tory MP Philip Davies spent more than an hour speaking on the navy bill, while a string of other Tory MPs including David Nuttall and Alan Mak also delivered lengthy speeches supporting it.

Davies has been accused of filibustering a string of bills from legislation aimed at getting free hospital parking for carers to the banning of the use of wild animals in circuses.

Beginning to outline her bill, Ms Lucas said: “Although I completely support the Bill that preceded mine, there is an irony that has not gone unnoticed: Members have spent many hours debating a wholly uncontroversial Bill, while my Bill is about tackling discrimination and bullying around lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues. It is a great shame that there is not more time to debate it.”

Tory MP Stewart Jackson attempted to intervene, but Caroline Lucas did not let her speak, saying: “There is absolutely no way I am giving way to Government Members, who have spent so many hours filibustering a perfectly serious Bill. There is no way I am going to give way.”

“A Terrence Higgins Trust report, which involved a survey of 900 young people aged 16 to 24, found that SRE is inadequate or absent in many schools.

“Some 99% of the young people surveyed thought that SRE should be mandatory in all schools and more than 60% received SRE just once a year or less. Three quarters were not taught about consent and half the young people surveyed rated the SRE that they received in school as either poor or terrible.”

Time ran out for the debate before Ms. Lucas had a chance to finish her opening speech.

Education Secretary Justine Greening has previously said that the government was “actively looking at options” regarding making the subject compulsory.

Photo: Flickr

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