I was born in the 70’s. The choices then where limited, especially in a deprived northern city where I spent most of my childhood. One of the most critical choices was a second hand chopper or hand-me-down grifter?

Like many LGBT children I survived Section 28 – but it could have been so much better. The lack of understanding that there were other LGBT people in the world like me, meant for a lonely childhood and years of trying to understand who I was. I’m now an out, gay woman.

In 1986 Section 28 was introduced to ensure that schools “shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality” or “promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship”.

Section 28 meant legally schools could not even talk about LGBT issues until 2003 when it was rescinded. The effects of Section 28 devasted lives. Suicide rates of LGBT people are significantly higher than all other areas of the population, broken relationships, mental health issues all feature high on the list of issues LGBT people suffer from.

For decades scientists can prove that that being gay, lesbian or bisexual (and trans) is just a natural to occurrence, like being heterosexual.  Humans are complex. There is nothing wrong with finding someone attractive or loving someone of the same gender as yourself. It is not something people choose, it just is. It isn’t (shouldn’t) something to be ashamed about.

Section 28 meant for many people that being LGBT was shameful, it made us feel guilty for the feeling we felt, and created loneliness where there should have been love and understanding. With Section 28 in place, I just didn’t know other people like me existed.

I’m thankful that today many people embrace LGBT diversity. They respect that love does not see gender and love is not just confined to heterosexual relationships. Statistics show that up to 10% of people are LGBT (https://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/apr/05/10-per-cent-population-gay-alfred-kinsey-statistics), and now near half the younger people don’t even relate to being heterosexual anymore (https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/11807740/half-young-people-heterosexual-lgbt-homosexual-yougov.html). The closet of sexual and gender identity has been flung open.

LGBT people, their families and friends are happier and healthier with openness, honestly and respect.

However, we are entering a phase now where we are taking steps backwards, and this is being supported by the some members of the government. This is simply not acceptable in a forward thinking society.

The UK should be leading a progressive agenda on all human rights, and Andrea Leadsom comments are deeply disappointing (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k1SXVx9Ioj8).

Parents absolutely have a right to instill good values and beliefs into their children. However, we must draw the line when this defies science and puts some of these very children they want to protect in danger of known harm to themselves through years of guilt, shame and loneliness – which will lead to much higher levels of depression, anxiety and suicide. 

This should not about religious belief and faith, this should be about the health and wellbeing of children. It is a fact that some of these children who will be denied education on LGBT issues will be themselves be LGBT, and these children need to understand that this is OK. The other children need to learn to understand that other people being LGBT is OK too.

Just like back in the 80’s we should limit our children’s understanding of the world and themselves. Unlike choosing which childhood bike to have – our own sexual and gender identity are GIVEN to us and NOT chosen. The only choices should be how we live and thrive as our true authentic selves without fear or hate.