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Louise Kirk: Parents, not the anti-family State, should take the lead on sex education

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Those with their ears to the ground may have noticed some recent new moves to control how our children think about family. Just this week the uber liberal sex education lobby sought again to make sex education compulsory in schools. In April the Education Committee used much publicised fears over pornography to reopen the question of compulsory sex education, despite the fact that extensive consultation on the same subject only concluded in March 2013. The Sex Education Forum didn’t like being told to stick to the status quo.

Then, over the quiet summer months, the Consultation for Promoting British Values in School was hastily thrown together, trying to force what are now called “British Values” on independent schools, with the intention that all schools follow. “British values”, as far as this consultation is concerned, centre on transgenderism, which smudges the difference between the sexes and denies that fathers and mothers have unique roles. We can expect much more of this in future: there are now 200 Professors of Gender in Germany alone. How strange that gender theory should blossom just when all the sciences, physiological, sociological, and psychological, are telling us that differences between the sexes are vital.

Today’s generation of children will encounter anti-family, anti-caring message from all sides. Much of this they will encounter at school, in sex education and careers advice whose tenor is to indulge sexual, but not family, desire: the innate longing which all of us have for permanent commitments is pushed behind prestige in the workplace. This is especially difficult for girls who have what I think of as a creative tension between wanting to make use of their talents as an individual, and wanting to bring up a family.

The only solution in my view is to take back ourselves the whole task of educating children in sexuality, and to fight for it. It has always struck me as odd that parents have allowed themselves to be considered not up to the job. After all, we are parents. We are also in the hot seat: children have a way of embarrassing us with sudden questions and they have a right to get answers from us and not in public at school.

In fact, even the State has recognised this. Have a look at Chapter 5 of the government’s Sex and Relationship Education Guidance 2000, for the moment still in force, and you will see that it begins: “Research shows that children and young people want to receive their initial sex and relationship education from their parents and families, with school and other adults building on this later” and “Parents are the key people in teaching their children about sex, relationships and growing up.”

We need to be confident that we are our children’s natural educators. This is nothing strange, but commonsense. We know our children as nobody else does and can tailor what we choose to say individually to each child. This communication is intensely personal and opens up a level of trust and friendship which is invaluable in later years.

Who is later going to comment on boyfriends or lay down a curfew? It won’t be the school nurse. Long-term vision does not exist outside the family but there is a yet profounder reason why parents should want to take up their job. Only from them can the child learn at firsthand what it is to be the fruit of sexual love. By unfolding the story of life, parents cast out the fear of growing up and give the child a deep feeling of self-worth. The child is becoming adult. It is, if you like, a rite of passage.

So personal a task can be daunting. Many parents also doubt their level of knowledge and dislike making a fuss. They may not realise quite how overt many sex education classes are, or the extent to which they undermine marriage and family values. Either can have a lasting impact on the child and be much more traumatic than making good reason to take it out of a lesson. What is more, if we do not use it this right it will disappear.

I don’t think it helpful just to complain: there has to be some way to do something to help. My way has been to write a book, Sexuality Explained: a Guide for Parents and Children. I have used the biology of sexuality to explain not only how our bodies function but also how we function best in the family. There is a lot tucked away on the important roles of mother and father and how they integrate with their children to form strong family bonds. It is not a religious book but it takes as a starting premise that every human life is valuable. It forms a complement to the values education programme Alive to the World of which I am the UK Co-ordinator.

The book grew out of small beginnings, and has been helped on its way by many other mothers and fathers who share my concern at the current culture. The state is taking liberties with us and we need concerted action to fight back.

Sexuality Explained: a Guide for Parents and Teachers (Gracewing, 2013) by Louise Kirk. To find out more, see Louise’s website here and her book here.

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Louise Kirk
Louise Kirk
Louise is UK Co-ordinator for the Alive to the World values education programme, mother of four and author of Sexuality Explained: a Guide for Parents and Children.

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