Editor’s comment: Faith leaders’ letter opposing LGBT-inclusive sex and relationships education is wrong

A protest against lessons about LGBT rights and relationships at Birmingham's Anderton Park Primary

A protest against lessons about LGBT rights and relationships at Birmingham's Anderton Park Primary School. The letter signed by a number of north London community leaders came in the wake of these demonstrations. Picture: Aaron Chown/PA Wire - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Ignorance breeds ignorance.

For so long, children were taught directly or by omission that LGBT people did not exist, did not deserve rights, had not made an incalculable contribution to this and every country and culture. It is no surprise some of those ignorant children have grown into ignorant adults.

There are LGBT people all around us, of all ages and every demographic. Education that artificially excludes queer people and same-sex relationships does not stop anyone being gay. It does not stop anyone finding out how their bodies work. It does not prevent people from realising they do not identify as the gender they were assigned at birth, or from experiencing discrimination as a result.

All it does is take away the support and help those people desperately need, making life for them harder and more dangerous.

LGBT people who are not taught frankly about ourselves and the world around us from as early an age as possible are more likely to form unhealthy relationships, put ourselves at risk, harm ourselves and fail to reach our potentials.

And our friends and families are less likely to support and understand us if they, too, have been taught to hate and ignore us, passively or directly.

In the name of religion, people have achieved extraordinary, selfless, beautiful things. Being free to practise a religion, and the communion with others that comes from sharing and preserving its history and culture, is a human right, as it should be.

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Living with and learning from people who have different beliefs and backgrounds is an honour, too; it fosters love and respect, helps destroy ignorance and hate, and makes us all richer and stronger.

But using it as an excuse to further marginalise some of the most vulnerable people in society is a shameful abuse of religion. The rights and safety of LGBT people are not things to be reviewed or debated or traded. The fact they are viewed as such proves how far we still have to go as a society – whatever faith we practise.