Andrea Leadsom has come under fire recently for defending parents rights to remove children from LGBT lessons. But surely, as a parent, you would want your child to understand that they live in a diverse world? A world full of differences from ethnicity, religion and culture to gender and disabilities. We need to raise children who feel at ease living in multicultural society. The very BEST way to do that is to normalise all these differences early on in their lives.

Andrea Leadsom: Parents Should Be Able To Withdraw Children From School Classes Teaching LGBTQ+ Rights

Let’s teach our children tolerance

I am a firm believer that we should teach tolerance in schools. Tolerance isn’t about accepting bad behaviour, its about expecting respect. Living in a multicultural society brings new ideas, experiences and energy to our lives. Our children can potentially learn bundles from other cultures, and tolerance opens doors in business, education, travel, leisure, lifestyle & art. Most of all it brings peace and allows people to thrive.

I have a heterosexual marriage with four young children in a very undiverse area. My children especially need to know about these differences. In our small local, predominately white bubble, they are fairly unlikely to see people of colour and they know less than a handful of people with disabilities or adults from different cultures. I know of only a few local people who are homosexual, and most of those don’t openly discuss their relationships – possibly for fear of public reaction, which is so sad.

Our family try to have lots of conversations around diversity and I always say we should treat people how we want to be treated – but is it enough?

Tolerance for a better society

Would you remove your child from a lesson exposing & educating children of the different kinds of disabilities? Why is teaching a child about LGBT & equality any different? This isn’t about sex, its about sexuality – and children need to know that they are loved and accepted, regardless of differences. The need to know that every family is different, and that is okay.

“Tolerance, as we define it, refers to the skills we need to live together peacefully. In times of peace, people have a chance to prosper socially, economically and emotionally. Tolerance creates a society in which people can feel valued and respected, and in which there is room for every person, each with their own ideas, thoughts and dreams. This is why we believe tolerance is important: because it is an essential aspect of a healthy, livable society.” – Youth for Tolerance – Lebanon (one of the most diverse yet disturbed countries in the world)

Giving parents the option to remove children from this conversation doesn’t promote tolerance or diversity. This isn’t about pushing children to make a choice about their sexuality. It’s about teaching children that families come in all shapes and sizes. Same-sex marriages have been legal since 2014, yet it’s still not normalised, which is unsurprising really since we are still battling patriarchy.

It doesn’t harm children to know early on that when they grow up, regardless of whether they fall in love with a man or a woman, they can enjoy a normal life. – Lesbemums from “A letter to Andrea Leadsom”

By having conversations about diversity in schools, we promote tolerance and compassion and let our children know its okay to be different.  This message is so important and will hopefully reduce mental health issues and the awful suicide rates in our teenagers. I want to live in a world where we can uphold our own heritage and beliefs while continuing to celebrate the differences of others.

Because, at the end of the day, despite all the differences, we are all the same.

You can help: Sign the petition to ‘support inclusive education’ here

A note on the word tolerance:

When I say tolerance I mean; open-mindedness, forbearance, lack of prejudice, lack of bias, broad-mindedness, liberalism, patience, magnanimitysympathyunderstandingcharity, leniencylenityindulgenceclemency.
I mean it in a respectful way.

I don’t mean; that we should ‘tolerate’; put up with, stomach or endure.