A NEW law about relationships and sex education (RSE) comes into effect for all schools in England this September. Children from the age of four will be taught what schools think they should learn about sex, sexuality and gender dysphoria. Unfortunately, this law has created an environment where children can be misled, confused and in some cases prematurely sexualised.
Serious issues have already arisen where schools have been teaching RSE early. For example, last month a mother in Hull was outraged at the pornography research and other sexuality homework her primary child was given.
Schools have been known to act unlawfully and push a problematic ideological agenda. The ‘Educate and Celebrate’ programme is not neutral but aims to ‘smash heteronormativity’ and the ‘No Outsiders’ programme in Birmingham that has attracted so much media attention is based on ‘Queering the primary classroom’.
Some head teachers have refused to listen to parents’ concerns. At Heavers Farm Primary in Croydon, children were expected to participate in LGBT Pride celebrations against parents’ wishes.
Even local authorities have caused problems. Warwickshire County Council recommended schools use the ‘All About Me’ programme which encourages masturbation for children in infants’ classes. It took the threat of legal action to make the council withdraw its recommendation of the programme.
Alarmingly, established child development expertise has been ignored in many RSE programmes. This means that they cannot be guaranteed to be age appropriate. Some programmes aim to lower a child’s inhibitions and encourage sexual experimentation. In effect, this is grooming.
Once seen, images cannot be unseen. They are imprinted on the memory for life. There have been instances of primary children shielding their eyes from viewing the sex education video presented to them. With a video about a transitioning 11-year-old child, the children were so distressed it had to be turned off before it was finished.
In some relationships education programmes, friendships with someone of the same sex (the most common friendship among children of primary school age), is blended with same-sex adult sexual relationships. This is misleading, confusing and unhelpful. It is not education.
Teachers promoting gender choice are irresponsible and arguably criminally misleading children. Life-changing surgery and a lifetime of drugs is not good health. There is evidence that puberty blockers retard or stop physical development in areas such as skeletal structure and the brain in children and teenagers. Many individuals have already deeply regretted their decision to transition.
The law says that parents are the primary educators for their children. There is, however, no right to withdraw from relationships education up to 16 years, and there is only a downgraded right to request withdrawal from sex education in secondary school. This is an unprecedented step to usurp the authority of parents by the state.
Every school will choose how they will fulfil the requirements of the RSE law, some using in-house resources and others using or adapting external programmes. The only way a parent can know what their child will be taught is to ask.
Coming out of Covid-19 lockdown, the government is now getting some children back to school part-time. It’s unlikely that schools will be back full-time until September at the earliest.
Even though the law requires that every school consult with parents on RSE policy, and samples of materials should be made available for inspection, the Department for Education is still insisting that RSE is taught from September this year.
It is imperative, then, that parents take the initiative and, as a matter of urgency, ask when policy consultation will occur at their school so that the RSE curriculum can be developed with their input.
If you are a primary school parent or carer, please email your head teacher, asking when your school will be engaging with parents on RSE policy. At the consultation, you can ask questions, look at samples of teaching materials and make sure you consider them appropriate for your child. If you aren’t a parent or carer, please play your part and let any parents or carers you know about this.
Here is some suggested wording for an email to the school to use if you would find this helpful (feel free to personalise as you want).
and below is a summary of some of your parental rights. The law is on your side.
Not all schools will teach bad RSE, but if you are not happy with the school’s response to your enquiry, you can get in contact with the School Gate Campaign for advice.
Dear [head teacher name]
I am the parent/grandparent/carer of [child’s name] in Year [R-6].
I understand that new relationships education (and sex education if it’s offered) will be taught in primary schools from September.
Could you please let me know when the school will be engaging with parents about the policy on this, as required by the government?
I am aware that we have very little time left before teaching needs to start and I’d like to see the materials you propose to use.
With best wishes,
[Parent etc. name]
The RSE regulations requires that ‘[RSE] education is appropriate having regard to the age and religious background of the pupils.’
They also require that the governing body of a maintained school must make and keep up to date a separate written statement of their policy with regard to the provision of RSE, publish a copy of the statement on a website and provide a copy free of charge to anyone who asks for one, and must consult parents of registered pupils at the school before making or revising that policy.
Department for Education guidance (not law)
The DfE guidance requires schools to make samples of the materials that will be taught available.
Schools with a religious character (and non-faith schools which adopt a similar approach) are permitted to teach their distinctive faith perspectives on relationships, marriage and civil partnerships, and balanced debate is permitted to take place about issues that are seen as contentious.
While strongly encouraged by the DfE to do so, primary schools are not required by law to teach LGBT elements (or the Equalities Act).
Parents have a right to receive education for their children that is in accordance with their own philosophical and religious convictions. (Human Rights Act 1998)
An organisation in schools attempting to persuade or convince, instead of safeguard and support, is essentially political in nature. Materials from lobbying or political organisations are forbidden in schools. (Education Act 1996)
If what is being presented to children in schools is not objective, pluralistic and critical, it is categorised as indoctrination and is breaking the law. (Folgero and Others v Norway)