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New Guidance for Teachers

New guidance published by the government will call for teachers to use more sensitivity when discussing issues, including gay families and sexuality.

The guidelines, published yesterday by the Qualifications and Curriculum Association, deal with the Personal, Social and Health Education lessons that children sit whilst in school.

In the guidance, teachers are advised to remember children from non-traditional families including same-sex parents. Additionally, they are urged to be sensitive when discussing issues of sexuality, including those associated with LGBT people.

The guidelines have angered conservatives, who have slammed the proposals to discuss same-sex parent families with children between 5 and 7.

However, the move has been backed by campaigners, who believe the move will help alter how young people view LGBT people.

A spokesperson for the QCA said the issue was one of guidance, not instruction. "We aren't asking teachers to teach about gay marriage to five years olds, despite some reports," a spokesperson told GAY.COM today. "What we're saying is be sensitive to children who might be in your class who might not have the traditional family unit, including same-sex parents."

She said the guidance was intended to offer teachers "the tools with which to tackle some of the issues in modern society" and was quick to distance the QCA from the criticism levelled at it in newspapers including the Daily Mail. "It is a positive thing," she said. "We're very keen that teachers are aware of these guidelines so children don't go away from class feeling their families are different or under valued or that they leave with lower self esteem."

The right wing press has been quick to slam the proposals. In the Daily Mail, Simon Calvert of the Christian Institute said the move would leave parents "up in arms". "I think that parents will be shocked to think that the Government believes their children should be indoctrinated into this politically correct view of the world," he told the newspaper. "A lot of parents will tend to think that trying to force five-year-old children to value homosexual relationships is almost a form of brain-washing."

This claims were discredited by campaigners, who said the guidance would send a message of inclusivity to children. "From a very early age, children are exposed to homophobia, and there is now evidence of homophobic bullying at Key Stage 2," a spokesperson for campaigning group Schools Out told GAY.COM. "Many schools are failing to help children understand social and cultural diversity." "Schools Out applaud the DfES for this new guidance, and hope it will be a big step forward for schools, where many teachers still worry about the legality of discussing LGBT issues."