England's high schools are now requiring all students to take LGBTQ-inclusive sex education classes as part of a more broad set of guidelines being rolled out this fall.
"We want to support all young people to be happy, healthy, and safe," a Department for Education spokesperson told NBC News about the decision. The curriculum is designed to provide all students with information about contraception, consent, and online safety, as well as "what makes a good friend, a good colleague, and a successful marriage."
The curriculum also seeks to teach teens to "understand human sexuality and to respect themselves and others."
The information on gender identity and sexual orientation will be integrated into the curriculum, rather than being taught in separate lessons so students understand the importance of equality, the new guidelines say.
The rules also call on teachers to approach the topics in a sensitive manner because some students might still be discovering their identities.
Educators are also being strongly encouraged to include LGBTQ examples in a new curriculum for elementary school students. There, the focus is on families and friendships, not intimate details, NBC News reports.
Josh Bradlow, a policy manager at Stonewall, an LGBTQ organization based in England, called the move a "landmark step forward' and said it would have been "life-changing" if he had the opportunity to have the classes.
Bradlow said the inclusive approach will encourage equality and will play a "tremendous role" in tackling bullying.
He said he is concerned teachers have not gotten enough guidance and said his organization has helped 1,500 schools across the nation. Stonewall plans to start virtual lessons as well.
Denmark, Sweden, and the Netherlands already have LGBTQ-inclusive sex education courses in their schools, and two states, California and New Jersey, have passed similar measures in their public schools.
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