THE UK Labour Party recently announced it would make Sex and Relationship Education (SRE) LGBT-inclusive and compulsory in state schools across the country to combat homophobic bullying, should they win the May elections.

Shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt made the announcement at the Little Ilford School in London. He said the policy would apply to all state-funded primary and secondary schools.

The initiative is part of a larger education report tabled by Labour called Ending Homophobia Together — Supporting LGBT Young People and Teachers.

Hunt said in the report that “no young person should ever feel that their sexuality or gender identity prevents them from fulfilling their potential”.

“Tackling homophobic and transphobic bullying in schools… is a Labour priority,” he said.

A recent Cambridge University report entitled The School Report (2012) found that LGBT pupils who were bullied were at a higher risk of depression, self-harm and suicide.

Hunt told PinkNews that “the use of homophobic language and other forms of homophobic bullying is damaging the life chances of so many young people”.

For this reason, he said his latest plan has a strong focus on mental health and well-being so that students can perform at their highest potential.

Meanwhile, in the US, a recent study revealed that students who come out in high school were less likely to experience depression and abuse.

Stephen Russell wrote in the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry that “what’s needed are supporting environments so that all kids can figure out and be as true to themselves as they can be”.

Moreover, the UK’s National Union of Student’s latest survey of 2500 university students revealed that the poor standards of sex education have had negative outcomes on young people.

These included abusive relationships, lack of sexual fulfillment, unwanted pregnancies, and high rates of HIV and other STIs.

The long-term goals of Labour’s LGBT-inclusive SRE plan is to promote sexual health and understanding, as well as acceptance.

“We need to act urgently to prevent the plight of homophobic bullying that is damaging the lives of thousands of pupils…[we need] strategies for education, dealing with both prevention and resolution and new training for teachers,” Hunt said.

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