What are the Protected Characteristics?
It is against the law to discriminate against someone because of:
- gender reassignment
- marriage and civil partnership
- religion or belief
- sexual orientation
These are called Protected Characteristics. In UK law, individuals are protected under the Equality Act 2010 from these types of discrimination.
Guidance on Teaching
DFE statutory guidance affirms from the outset that schools must not unlawfully discriminate against pupils (or indeed, staff and parents) because of their age, sex, race, marriage or civil partnership or sexual orientation. The guidance calls upon schools to take positive action to deal with disadvantages affecting a pupil or pupils because of a Protected Characteristic.
In order to help schools ensure that the needs of pupils are met, the guidance proposes that schools consider the makeup of the student body and consider whether it would be necessary to put in additional support. Schools with a religious character are not exempt from complying with the relevant provisions of the Equality Act 2010 with regard to the Protected Characteristics. However, the religious background of all pupils will be taken into account when planning the teaching so that topics that are included as part of the RSHE programme are appropriately handled.
The dignity of the human person is central to the life and teaching of the Catholic Church, and this is foundational to any policies or teaching on the Protected Characteristics.
'So God created humanity in his own image, in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them'
Upholding the dignity of the human person - ensuring that individuals or groups are not disadvantaged because of a Protected Characteristic - is integral to teaching RSHE within a Catholic school context. However, it is not the only consideration. In the statutory guidance, the DFE affirms that, 'All schools may teach about faith perspectives. In particular, schools with a religious character may teach the distinctive faith perspective on relationships.' This is further supported by the Bishops of England and Wales in 'Learning to Love' a teaching document which provides 'An introduction to Catholic Relationship and Sex Education for Catholic Educators.'
Please see our curriculum map below which details how we cover Protected Characteristics: