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Compulsory sex and LGBT+ education sparks religious backlash in UK

23 Comments
By Rachel Savage

The introduction of mandatory sex education in Britain, including teaching about same-sex relationships and transgender identity, has sparked a backlash from religious parents and faith schools that want to be able to opt out from the new rules.

Sex education will become compulsory from the age of 12 in September 2020, according to new government guidelines published late on Monday. Previously parents and faith schools had been able to opt out.

Under the new guidelines parents can still take their children out of sex education lessons until the year before their 16th birthday.

Children will also learn about same-sex relationships before they turn 12 and that stereotypes based on gender and sexuality can be damaging.

Sex education "must be grounded in a firm understanding and valuing of positive relationships, and respect for others, from primary age," Education Secretary Damian Hinds said in a statement.

Amanda Spielman, the head of Ofsted, which inspects English schools, said last week all children should learn that same-sex relationships are normal.

The first overhaul of sex and relationships education in Britain since 2000 sparked criticism from some religious parents and faith schools that want sex education and teaching about LGBT+ relationships to stay optional.

More than 100,000 people signed a petition arguing for the"fundamental right" to opt out of relationship and sex education, triggering a debate in Britain's parliament on Monday.

"We have grave concerns about the physical, psychological and spiritual implications of teaching children about certain sexual and relational concepts... and believe that they have no place within a mandatory school curriculum," the petition said.

"Parents need to have a right of withdrawal from sex education and this is one of the reasons why home education is growing," said Clive Ireson, the head of the Association of Christian Teachers, a lobby group.

David Meyer, executive director of the Partnership for Jewish Schools (PaJeS), said schools were neither obligated to teach every religion, nor every type of disability.

"It is hard to justify why we should force schools to teach children at a young age details of sexual relationships," Meyer, a rabbi, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Meyer said he was in favor of "teaching every child tolerance and respect... including (for) LGBT", but that no more emphasis should be placed on LGBT+ concerns than on any other equality issue.

Parents staged protests objecting to teaching about LGBT+ rights and same-sex relationships at a school in a predominantly Muslim area of Birmingham, Britain's second-largest city, earlier this month.

But Shaun Dellenty, who has advised the government on LGBT+ education, said LGBT+ inclusion in education could save lives.

"There should be no get out clause for any learning community around the inclusion of LGBT+ identities and the teaching and celebration of same-sex families," he said.

The new education guidelines will also see children aged 11 and older being taught about the harm caused by female genital mutilation (FGM), as well as grooming, forced marriage, domestic abuse and "honor-based abuse".

"We know that FGM can have a catastrophic effect on the lives of those affected, causing life-long physical and psychological damage. Everyone must do all they can to protect women and girls from this extreme form of gendered violence," Hinds said. Children will also learn about physical and mental health and how to stay safe online, including the risks of sharing private photos.

© Thomson Reuters Foundation

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

23 Comments
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This amounts to indoctrination.

People deserve a choice.

-3 ( +8 / -11 )

Sex education was the norm when I was st school, but we never had inclusiveness. It's good that same sex families and relationships will be included now.

The parents complaining are part of the problem and highlights why these lessons are needed in schools.

1 ( +7 / -6 )

Of course the backlash comes from the religious ones who want to make people think that sexuality is dirty or immoral.

How many gay or transgender kids are being bullied and harassed right now ? Just to tell them and other kids "it's ok to be like this and here's why" will surely be helpful.

1 ( +7 / -6 )

The new education guidelines will also see children aged 11 and older being taught about the harm caused by female genital mutilation (FGM), as well as grooming, forced marriage, domestic abuse and "honor-based abuse".

So instead of investing more classroom time teaching maths and english, little Tommy and Sue will now be learning about about FGM, grooming gangs, forced marriages and honor killings? The absolute state of the UK in 2019.

-2 ( +6 / -8 )

Is it OK if I treat religious people differently? Seems that's what they want.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Since the percentage of people involved in "fringe" sexual activities is tiny, one wonders why it is necessary to teach about it. Add to this the high percentage of suicide and attempted suicide by the transgenders and it would be dangerous to encourage it in any way.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

If some people want to remain ignorant of sex education, I guess that's up to them.

Don't hold up much hope for their relationships, mind.

little Tommy and Sue will now be learning about about FGM, grooming gangs, forced marriages and honor killings? The absolute state of the UK in 2019.

Yes, so much better to brush it under the carpet.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

While I agree with this, I hope it doesn’t encourage an increase in home schooling. More kids spending all day at home being indoctrinated by religious types is not healthy for society.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

 it would be dangerous to encourage it in any way.

That's not how it works, that's not how any of this works.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Is it OK if I treat religious people differently? Seems that's what they want.

People are different, I guess that bothers you, but tolerance and understanding may change that.

Just give everyone a choice.

No forcefeeding of opinions on children.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

No forcefeeding of opinions on children.

Like religious indoctrination.

Which is more important, kids growing up with a healthy respect for sex and their fellow human beings or learning about stuff that may or may not have happened in ancient times?

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Amanda Spielman, the head of Ofsted, which inspects English schools, said last week all children should learn that same-sex relationships are normal

The dictionary definition of "normal" is: "the usual, typical, or expected state or condition". It is, therefore, incorrect to say that same-sex relationships are normal.

It's a pity that the person in charge of inspecting schools does not understand the English language.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

Is it OK if I treat religious people differently? Seems that's what they want.

People are different, I guess that bothers you, but tolerance and understanding may change that.

It is a tough one. While I support the right of everyone to have a religious opinion, when some of those opinions or practices are actively harmful to living in a civilised, 21st century, functionally secular country, they need not be respected.

Anyway, I’m sure most of these parents will be able to guide the kids along the path of religious ‘tolerance’ at home.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

It is, therefore, incorrect to say that same-sex relationships are normal.

That statement highlights just why there is an urgent need to educate people and move away from harmful ideas that being LGBT is somehow not normal.

Think of the harm it does to a young person, being told repeatedly, that they are abnormal or bound for some fiery afterlife to atone for their sexuality.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

Sex education was the norm when I was st school, but we never had inclusiveness. It's good that same sex families and relationships will be included now.

Same here. Sex education in the late 80s was all about contraception & STIs (esp aids obviously) so we did talk a fair bit about gay sex (no same-sex relationships per se though).

The new education guidelines will also see children aged 11 and older being taught about the harm caused by female genital mutilation (FGM), as well as grooming, forced marriage, domestic abuse and "honor-based abuse".

Civic & social education rather than sex ed imo. Certainly think they have a place in a nation's education system.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

That statement highlights just why there is an urgent need to educate people and move away from harmful ideas that being LGBT is somehow not normal.

I refer you once again to the definition of "normal".

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Why can't people love each other without orgasms coming into it?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

I refer you once again to the definition of "normal".

Meh. Words and definitions are in a constant state of flux.

The dictionary definition of scrote, for instance, means "a contemptible person". Does that mean you are contemptible?

If your son or daughter came out to you, saying "Dad, there's something wrong with me, I'm not normal", you'd hardly say that they were correct.

LGBT people are everyday normal people, only the blinkered can and would claim otherwise. Which is why education is so important.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

I refer you once again to the definition of "normal".

Normal https://www.dictionary.com/browse/normal

conforming to the standard or the common type; usual; not abnormal; regular; natural.

Homosexuality has been part of humanity since humanity was human. It's part of the animal kingdom as well. Therefore it is common, usual, not abnormal, regular and natural. AKA normal.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Surely sensitive prudent parenting can decide on the appropriate time to broach the subject matter. I attended a Catholic Girls School, however my Mother was always on hand when I was knocking on puberties door.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

I attended a Catholic Girls School, however my Mother was always on hand when I was knocking on puberties door.

I attended a Catholic Boys School and the Catholic Girls School nearby was notorious for girls getting pregnant before 16. Creepy stories about the sisters teaching there were common. Our school had at least 2 proven pedophile brothers teaching us.

Catholic education leaves a lot to be desired on the subject of sex.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Hi Jimizo, I have ceased accepting communion because the Church refuses to take full responsibility for these pervert priests.

There are a number of policy issues for faith Schools to come to terms with as much political as faith based where recognition of LGBT relationships are even accepted. 

The mandatory requirement is going to be a tough hurdle that could prove difficult to overcome.

I thankfully enjoyed my school years.

I am dismayed and shocked at your experiences.

I want these monsters held to account for there depravity.

How Schools present the LGBT community and fully educate students requires parents to be fully involved to find concensus.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Why can't people love each other without orgasms coming into it?

It can. I manage this successfully with my parents.

But if people want to indulge in a sexual relationship with each other and marry, it is not my business and wish them all the best.

I would like children to grow up understanding that these are healthy relationships and if that means overriding bronze age superstitions, so be it. Education is there to inform children, not to imprison them in their parents' beliefs.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

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