Squea­mish, di­vi­sive and trad — cam­paign­ers’ ver­dict on UK sex ed­u­ca­tion

Cyprus Today - - UK -

A PLANNED over­haul of sex ed­u­ca­tion in Bri­tish schools is squea­mish, con­ser­va­tive and caters more to boys than girls and LBGT+ pupils, ac­cord­ing to feed­back on the gov­ern­ment pro­pos­als as a con­sul­ta­tion pe­riod ended on Wed­nes­day.

The gov­ern­ment wants sex ed­u­ca­tion to be com­pul­sory at all schools in Eng­land and this year be­gan work­ing on the first ma­jor re­forms to sex and re­la­tion­ship guid­ance for 18 years.

“What has been pro­posed is ex­tremely squea­mish about the real lives that young peo­ple are liv­ing and does not fac­tor in the needs of girls, young women and LGBT+ peo­ple,” said Rachel Krys, co-di­rec­tor of cam­paign group End Vi­o­lence Against Women.

“In­stead it puts far too much em­pha­sis on the con­cerns of tra­di­tional and con­ser­va­tive voices,” she said.

Other crit­ics cited a lack of clar­ity on LGBT+ top­ics and abu­sive re­la­tion­ships and took is­sue with the lee­way given to re­li­gious schools to teach a “dis­tinc­tive faith per­spec­tive on re­la­tion­ships”.

The Depart­ment for Ed­u­ca­tion said the new draft guid­ance would en­sure chil­dren were taught “ageap­pro­pri­ate con­tent”.

“We will re­flect on feed­back from the con­sul­ta­tion to make sure the draft guid­ance is clear and sup­ports all young peo­ple,” said a spokesman. David Meyer, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor for the Jewish schools sup­port net­work PaJes, de­nied the guid­ance al­lowed schools to avoid LGBT+ top­ics and teach ab­sti­nence-based lessons.

“It is the duty of school to teach re­spect and tol­er­ance to all but I think there is a right to re­li­gious prin­ci­ples,” he said.

“Far from it be­ing guid­ance that gives too much cre­dence to re­li­gious views, I think there is a duty for schools to be teach­ing a cer­tain level of sex­ual moral­ity.”

The plan had been to in­tro­duce com­pul­sory ed­u­ca­tion but the draft guid­ance says pri­mary schools, which teach chil­dren up to age 11, do not have to teach sex ed­u­ca­tion and par­ents can also re­move their child from classes up to age 15.

Cam­paign­ers also crit­i­cised con­ces­sions to faith schools, fear­ing the pro­mo­tion of mar­riage and of a mo­ral stance on is­sues from ab­sti­nence to same-sex re­la­tion­ships.

Women’s groups also protested at plans to make op­tional any teach­ing around the sub­ject of forced mar­riage and fe­male gen­i­tal mu­ti­la­tion.

Schools should also be told to ad­dress the law on abuse, pornog­ra­phy and gen­der stereo­types more di­rectly and from a young age, they said.

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