Daily Mail

Parents who fear their 11-year-olds will be scarred for life by the graphic sex education lessons that no one warned them about

...and terrifying­ly, the drag queen who told pupils there are 73 genders wasn’t the worst of it

- By Sue Reid

LAST September an 111year-old boy called Alfie fie came home from his new ew school and began to chat hat about the day. What the small child, still in his maroon uniform, revealed to his parents nts was shocking.

That Thursday, he had been ‘chucked ked out’ of class by his teacher for being ing rude to a guest speaker at his comprehens­ive preenge on the Isle of Man.

His crime? Alfie had dared to challenge the view of the visitor, a local drag queen, een, who told his class in a sex education tion lesson overseen by a male teacher that human beings have 73 genders.

‘I said there were only two genders,’ ders,’ Alfie said. ‘The teacher said I had upset the guest and I was told to leave e the classroom, then threatened with isolation.’ His astounded father r and mother complained immediatel­y to o the school, saying their son was being unfairly punished for politely expressing essing his opinion.

Since that moment, all hell has been een let loose on the small island of 84,000 British citizens in the Irish Sea. Education chiefs have put on hold all Relationsh­ip and nd Sex Education lessons at the Queen Elizabeth zabeth II school, while an inquiry has been launched into what parents say y were ‘graphic and indecent’ classes wholly unsuitable for children fresh out of their primaries.

What began as an unfortunat­e classroom incident in a small outpost of Britain has spiralled into a national row which puts a spotlight on the nature of sex education lessons in some of our state schools which take place often against parents’ wishes and sometimes without their sayso or knowledge.

Alfie’s mother is appalled by what her son was being taught. This week, in her first interview, she told the Mail: ‘ We think Alfie was very brave to speak out. We want him to grow up a confident young man and if he doesn’t agree with something, we encourage him respectful­ly to express his opinion.’

She’s chosen to remain anonymous to protect her family, allowing only Alfie’s first name to be published. ‘He had only started at big secondary school two weeks before,’ she added.

‘At his young age, he should not be reprimande­d for believing that genders are purely male and female. It is not an appropriat­e punishment, nor fair.’

Alfie, meanwhile, has become something of a hero. As news leaked out of his brave stand via social media and radio stations on the Isle of Man, his family received hundreds of supportive messages by phone and via the internet from all over the world.

Some have sent texts anonymousl­y saying simply: ‘Well done, Alfie.’

Only one was hostile, telling Alfie’s parents: ‘How dare you not apologise for your son’s bad behaviour at school.’

With a rueful smile, his articulate and attractive mother said she told her son on Thursday as the messages poured in: ‘Alfie you’ve gone viral.’

But this is far more serious than a row over a drag queen, she told me as we spoke at a restaurant on the island. ‘It goes deeper than that,’ she said.

‘Some children will be scarred by what they are being told in sex education lessons that were introduced without parents being told.’

It emerged this week that, under a new headmistre­ss, Queen Elizabeth II High School (QE2) brought in a new curriculum covering sex education at the start of the academic year in September.

The lessons are said to include videos on topics such as successful masturbati­on, how a girl should roll a condom onto a male partner, intimate details of oral and anal sex, as well as discussion on transgende­r issues with graphic details of sex change operations showing the creation of false male genitalia.

As I discovered, some parents consider this all to be tantamount to nothing less than pornograph­y.

The syllabus, on offer by the island’s education department to all five secondarie­s, has not been adopted by all of them.

One head said they ‘put it in the office file’ where it remains. Another senior teacher in charge of 11-year-olds’ lessons has refused to introduce it, according to parents and local parish councillor­s (known here as commission­ers).

Mothers and fathers of children at QE2 and its feeder primary schools have now sent a 1,000- signature petition to education chiefs asking for an explanatio­n about what their children have been learning in the lessons.

As one commission­er, Eliza Cox, a Londoner and mother of two who is married to a lawyer and moved to the island 15 years ago, told us this week: ‘Our children are being taught about porn at 11 years old just after leaving primary school. The state, here and in the UK, drums into parents that we should look after our kids going online, put on all the safety features, watch them at all times.

‘Then we send them to school where they see it all anyway.’

Eliza, in her 40s, has found herself spearheadi­ng the parents’ protest. Many of the children in her island parish go to QE2, although her 11-yearold son goes to a private school on the island so is insulated from the row.

Her daughter, aged nine, is at primary school with classmates due to go to QE2 this autumn or the following year, however.

Eliza has taken up the fight against the graphic sex lessons with alacrity. ‘Many parents are afraid of speaking out publicly because they fear online trolling or being accused of homophobia or transphobi­a,’ she said.

‘I have a thick skin. I don’t worry about that. This is about protecting our children.’

Over the last three weeks she has heard a litany of truly alarming stories from children who have attended the sex education lessons.

It all began in early February when she bumped into another mother in the local supermarke­t where the two women stopped to chat. ‘She was rushing around because her 12-year- old daughter at QE2 was off school,’ recalls Eliza. ‘I asked if anything was wrong with her. The mother said her daughter was refusing to go to school, having a real meltdown, because it was a sex education lesson that day.’

The mum’s story was that her child had already been to one such lesson. She was asked to stand with a group of boys ‘she didn’t get on with’, hold a wooden dildo and put a condom on it.

Eliza goes on: ‘The daughter, sensitive and highly intelligen­t, was mortified, deeply embarrasse­d. She will remember that all her life and it may affect her relationsh­ips later on.’

But, more was to come. Eliza duly went off to pick up her daughter from school soon afterwards. There she was told by other parents that children were ‘ being taught how to masturbate’ at QE2. ‘Another parent said to me “that’s nothing. They are learning about oral and anal sex too.” I thought this can’t be true.’ Now she knows that it was all

too true — and happening on the Isle of Man, one of the safest and most gentle areas of Britain where locking your front door is an afterthoug­ht

The classes include videos about sex acts

‘Pupils shown images of sex change surgery’

and a lost wallet is invariably returned.

She suspects the entire curriculum at the school is tinged with an enthusiasm for no-holds-barred sex education.

On Tuesday, Eliza says, the subject got more than a mention in a science lesson on reproducti­on.

‘A mother rang me horrified about her daughter of 11 coming home after the lesson and asking her if she could get pregnant “through her mouth or her bum,” ’ she says. ‘The subject of oral and anal sex had obviously been discussed by the teacher even though these were very young children.’

Worse was to follow, if that seems possible. Eliza received an email from the same mother, which we have her permission to publish, about the same science lesson.

Its highly shocking content was as follows: ‘My daughter came home yesterday asking

me to clarify what the word c**t means.

‘She had learned the word from her science teacher at school during the day. Her class was asked if they could suggest alternativ­e words for sex and the reproducti­ve parts of the human body. The terms f***, oral, anal and “finger” sex were also mentioned and written up on the board. C**t was not suggested by any of the pupils. The teacher taught it to my daughter and the other children.’

The mother’s email warned: ‘The sex education curriculum ( at QE2) may be paused, but the content is still being taught across other subjects. The same science lesson is due to continue this Friday.’

Yesterday the number of signatures on the petition complainin­g to QE2’s headmistre­ss, Mrs Charlotte Clarke, was continuing to grow. The petition insists that what the school has been teaching 11 and 12-year- olds is ‘wholly unacceptab­le and unsafe’, alleging it places children at risk of harm from ‘graphic, indecent presentati­on of sexual acts and gender identities, including images of transgende­r operations’.

It warns that in any other walk of life the things which children say they have been shown in class would be deemed ‘indecent’ with ‘serious consequenc­es’ under the law for ‘those adults involved’.

‘We consider the alleged actions of showing graphic images of sexchange operations (on a mobile phone to young pupils) an issue of child protection. The attendance of a “drag queen” in class inappropri­ate. How and why was this guest speaker, an untrained adult, permitted to discuss gender issues with a child audience?’

One father, Matthew Cheetham, 34, who helped draw up the petition, has an 11-year-old girl at QE2 as well as a boy of seven at primary school and due to go there.

He told the Mail that hundreds of children had come forward ‘telling identical stories’ about their classes since the sex education curriculum was introduced in September. ‘It is clear from the sheer volume, that what they’re telling their parents day after day when they come home is true.’

The software engineer related how he was at a dinner recently with family and friends when they received an unwelcome surprise. One of the QE2 11-year-olds in the group said: ‘We talked about anal at school today.’

Matthew said: ‘ There were younger children at the meal, so they then wanted to know what anal meant. Some of these are children who eight months ago believed in Father Christmas. They were innocent when they arrived at the school last September. That didn’t last long because a teacher at QE2 told my child, and others, that Father Christmas wasn’t real anyway.’

The school, added Matthew, had personally apologised by phone on Thursday to parents over the science lesson, admitting in essence that the unfortunat­e events had taken place.

Meanwhile, the island’s Chief Minister Alfred Cannon said this week he wanted to find out ‘exactly what went on’ during QE2’s relationsh­ip and sexual education classes since their September start amid ‘concerning and conflictin­g’ reports.

Neither his officials nor the school will identify the drag queen who, say children, boasted of being ‘number one’ on the island.

‘It feels like the state is taking over’

But under growing pressure from islanders, the Manx government has appointed a ‘lawyer and a former policeman’ to run an independen­t investigat­ion into the parents’ and pupils’ allegation­s.

For her part, the head teacher of QE2, Charlotte Clarke, supports the investigat­ion.

‘I am confident that there is false and inaccurate informatio­n being shared,’ she said. ‘For openness and transparen­cy, I requested an independen­t review to ensure the facts. I am happy to take part in the independen­t external investigat­ion. The safeguardi­ng of our students is paramount.’

A spokespers­on for the island’s Department of Education said: ‘The safeguardi­ng and wellbeing of all our students is of paramount importance. Following concerns being raised around the relationsh­ips and sex education (RSE) curriculum, the Department has paused RSE lessons in all primary and secondary schools, while an external independen­t investigat­ion is carried out.’

But this is unlikely to calm the anger from families who were kept in the dark about the lessons. As the redoubtabl­e Eliza said: ‘Parents have the right to take children out of sex education classes. But if you don’t know they are being taught, how can you?

‘ It is the secrecy that has really lit the touch paper. It gives you the frightenin­g feeling the state is taking over and parents have no say.’

Then, shaking her head, she wonders what will happen next. ‘ Will they be teaching 11- year- olds about how to have Greek orgies or conduct Viking sacrifices?’

 ?? ?? Uproar: Sex education at Queen Elizabeth II High School (right) was described as ‘indecent’ by concerned parents
Uproar: Sex education at Queen Elizabeth II High School (right) was described as ‘indecent’ by concerned parents
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Complaints: Charlotte Clarke has received signed petition
HEAD TEACHER Complaints: Charlotte Clarke has received signed petition

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