FROM next September, Relationships Education in primary schools and Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) in secondary schools will be compulsory. Parents who wish to retain their own values should read this helpful briefing from the Values Foundation.
Guidance to schools published by the Department for Education says the lessons must not undermine but respect the manner in which parents seek to bring up their children in accordance with their religious and philosophical convictions. But the emphasis which the DfE places on the teaching of LGBT relationships may, according to the Values Foundation, go beyond the letter of the law. There is, for example, no requirement to teach sex education in primary school. Ultimately schools will have the final say. While the Education Minister Nick Gibb has been clear that schools will be consulting parents, this appears to be more about ‘bringing the parents along’.
Local authorities have already been given guidance about how to quash parents’ protests about the appropriateness or desirability of their schools’ RSE curriculum. This includes liaising with the police, taking out injunctions or fining parents, no less. The guidance emphasises not getting the media involved, but the cat is already out of the bag. Yesterday the BBC reported on the ‘LGBT teaching row’ and the advice that the government has issued.
There is no recognition that parents may know what is best for their children. Rather, LGBT advocates are piling on the pressure to keep parents out of RSE, and some are interpreting parents’ right to have a say over their children’s education as hostility towards LGBT. Peter Tatchell likewise has been campaigning for parents to have no say. His Foundation’s letter to the Education Secretary said that ‘political, religious and cultural sensitivities’ should not be allowed to thwart mandatory age-appropriate RSE in every school, including in faith and independent schools, from the first year of primary education onwards. The celebrity Stephen Fry has added his endorsement to this.
The Labour MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle argues that you would no more have parents teaching RSE than you’d have them teaching science.
Neither Tatchell nor Russell-Moyle sees parents as qualified for influencing what is taught to their children about sex and relationships. But it is not clear how Tatchell and Russell-Moyle are better placed. The LGBT lobby appear to take a particular interest in our children’s education. It could be related to their disadvantages in reproducing themselves biologically, as Sarah Franklin has mooted: ‘There is a distinct political significance to the simple fact that we do not reproduce ourselves biologically. We reproduce ourselves socially, entirely by means of the social, political and cultural struggles that keep gay and lesbian sub-cultures alive.’
Less benign, though forthright, is Daniel Villareal’s demand for the LBGT community to start admitting ‘that we do want to indoctrinate kids‘ and that ‘We want educators to teach future generations of children to accept queer sexuality. In fact, our very future depends on it.’
For many LGBT advocates and pedagogues heterosexuality is culturally constructed. They would like to reconstruct sexuality so that homosexuality is normalised and the distinction between sexualities is lost.
A ‘Queer Pedagogy’ has been created by certain academics and teachers to facilitate this process of social and cultural reproduction. The No Outsiders programme which caused the protests in Birmingham that I wrote about in TCW is one example.
The need to indoctrinate has in effect been acknowledged by Peter Tatchell in his explanation that ‘homophobes’ are closer to the truth than many gay activists would like to believe: ‘Removing the social opprobrium and penalties from queer relationships, and celebrating gay love and lust, would allow more people to come to terms with presently inhibited homoerotic desires. In this sense, it is perfectly feasible to “promote” lesbian and gay sexuality and “make” someone queer.’
But if such social constructionism is so important, surely the prior question to the adoption of these pedagogies is what type of relationships do we want to reproduce?
Do we want to encourage our young people to find gratification and safety with a same-sex friend? Or do we think it better that they discover the rewards, fascinations and challenges of having meaningful and stable relationships with the opposite sex?
Shouldn’t our love and intimacy ideally be submitted to marriage as a transcendent framework supporting the family through time?
Do we really want our young people put at considerable risk of death and illness by virtue of their sexual activity or would we rather they access that sacred power which enables them to bring forth new life?
Do we want them to always be identifying with the more subversive sources of culture and feeling as if they have missed out on the mainstream expressed in the art and literature of our culture?
Shouldn’t in fact we be encouraging heterosexuality?
Those who don’t fit that template should be able to be honest about their sexuality, even in the classroom, as long as it is relevant, age-appropriate and not done for an ideological cause. RSE lessons for teenagers might well discuss homosexuality as long as this includes the serious health and reproductive disadvantages involved.
All this can be done. But that is quite different from allowing the promotion of LGBT ideology in our schools.
For those who are interested in finding out more about the teaching of Sex and Relationships in schools there is a conference being held this Saturday, see here.