FOR once, there has been a roll-back in the progressive agenda. Parents have successfully campaigned to get Warwickshire county council to scrap the ‘All About Me’ programme for Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) and its accompanying website called ‘Respect Yourself’.
Over the last three years the so-called Conservative government and the Labour Party have been working together to implement RSE in all secondary schools and Relationships Education in all primary schools in England. Since the Children and Social Work Act 2017 laid the groundwork for the implementation of these new subjects in all schools in England from September 2020, there has been great concern and worry from parents across the country about the content of the syllabus and its effects on their children.
The final guidance on this was published in June 2019. Schools are required to consult parents about the content of the lessons, and to make it available for parents to inspect. About 1,600 of England’s 24,000 schools have been early adopters of the new subjects and began teaching them in September 2019, but consultations have not happened satisfactorily in all cases, nor have lesson contents always been made available to parents.
The guidance also abolished parents’ rights to withdraw their children from Relationships Education in primary schools and the Relationships component of RSE in secondary schools. The major concerns about this are that: children will be exposed to explicit content which will sexualise them at a young age; that they will be forced to learn about LGBT issues including transgenderism at an age where they cannot fully understand the concepts, and that teaching boys and girls that they are not necessarily boys and girls but that they can choose their gender is not just anti-scientific nonsense, it also severely damages children’s natural development.
There is the further concern that the number of children presenting with gender dysphoria has rocketed by 4,000 per cent in the last decade, and that this new subject forces on to children ‘progressive values’ which are in direct conflict with the traditional faith or the family values of most parents.
While the guidance does not specifically require LGBT issues to be taught in primary schools, it ‘strongly recommends’ that they are, but the final decision is left to the headteacher. If a primary school head is adamant that his or her school is going to teach five-year-olds about homosexuality and transgenderism against the wishes of parents, parents have no right to remove their children. However, they do have the right to demand a proper consultation on the curriculum and to see the lesson content. Schools which refuse to do so are in breach of the guidance.
In secondary schools however, there is no choice: LGBT issues must be taught. Parents are still allowed to request removal of their children from the ‘Sex’ component of RSE, but not the ‘Relationships’ component. However, the boundary between the two components is not at all clearly defined, and the final decision on whether a child may be removed from the ‘Sex’ component of RSE rests with the headteacher.
Up to now, it has been compulsory to teach the rudiments of sex education in secondary schools but only to the extent of teaching the scientific facts of reproduction and chromosomes in science lessons. This has normally been done in the first or second year of secondary school, when the majority of school children are aged 11 to 13, the age when they hit puberty. It is therefore age-appropriate.
RSE and Relationships Education however goes well beyond these scientific facts into discussions about transgenderism, homosexuality and in some cases pornography and masturbation. While proponents of rolling out the new subjects to all children maintain that it will be age-appropriate, it is clear that the contents of many programmes adopted by schools are far from it. Children are being exposed to highly sexualised and grossly inappropriate content at a lower and lower age.
This was the case with the ‘All About Me’ programme. It was implemented in Warwickshire primary and secondary schools. When the contents of the course became more widely known, there was an uproar.
As well as highly explicit and sexualised imagery there were explicit descriptions of a variety of sexual acts, some of which were unknown to most adults let alone children, encouragement to children to experiment with masturbation, and the normalisation of transgenderism. The anti-scientific notions of gender being different from sex and gender fluidity were integrated thoroughly into the programme.
Incredibly, the ‘Conservative’ county council defended using the programme for a number of months in the face of huge protests from parents, before finally dropping it from its curriculum this month.
This is a small victory for decent parents, concerned grandparents and also the many good teachers and schools who do not want to see children damaged by being exposed to sexualised material which is grossly age inappropriate. But Warwickshire is just one of 152 local education authorities (LEAs) in England, and all of them need to be monitored and made accountable to parents. How many of the others run similar programmes which are just as outrageous, progressive or confusing? In addition, the two-thirds of secondary schools and one-third of primary schools which are now academies and operate outside the jurisdiction of LEAs need to be held accountable for their programmes on an individual basis, as do independent schools.
In Birmingham, the city council took legal action against parents who protested against the ‘No Outsiders’ programme which taught children about homosexual relationships and transgenderism in primary schools under the guise of combating bullying. The parents were smeared as homophobes, bigots and extremists for wanting to protect their children from confusing and incorrect ideas such as that they could have ‘two mummies’ or ‘two daddies’, or change from being a boy to a girl or vice versa.
The ‘Educate and Celebrate’ programme which aims to ‘smash heteronormativity’ – normal relations between the two sexes – is already used in more than 1,100 schools. The government guidance recommends using resources created by Stonewall, an aggressive LGBT lobbying group which aims to embed LGBT across the curriculum,
so that children will be exposed regularly and often to images of LGBT people and information about homosexuality and transgenderism from the moment they step into a kindergarten until they leave secondary school. The bottom line, as Caroline ffiske wrote elsewhere on these pages, is that the Government has given guidance that ‘strongly encourages’ them to proceed.
While it was Theresa May’s government that implemented RSE and Relationships Education in England, the stance of Boris Johnson’s administration is very much that it doesn’t want to talk about it and hopes that it will go away as an issue because it is rather awkward. It is not something that they can be allowed to ignore. The state’s appropriation of parents’ right to be the primary educator of their children in such matters is outrageous.
The aim of progressives in both the Labour and ‘Conservative’ Party is clear: they wish to sever the transmission of traditional, conservative or faith-based family values from parents to children by attempting to indoctrinate the children while they are still in primary school.
From the small victory in Warwickshire, however, true conservatives should take hope. It is time for all parents to ramp up opposition to the removal of parents’ rights and to ensure that grossly age-inappropriate lesson content and programmes like ‘All About Me’ are kept at the centre of attention of MPs, councillors and headteachers until the Government acts in better conservative faith. They allowed the propaganda in. They must drive it out.