Monday 11 January 2010

Sex ed plans in schools bill would pour petrol on the fire

Tonight the House of Commons voted to give the Children, Schools and Families bill a second reading by 287 votes to 206.

The government's plans for sex education in all state schools would pour petrol on the fire of the sexual health crisis among young teenagers.

The bill includes provisions to make sex education part of the national curriculum for England, requiring schools to teach it from the age of five and up. This gives us serious cause for concern because of the history of British classroom-based sex education. School-based sex lessons have a reputation for worsening, not improving, indicators such as teenage pregnancy.

As sections of the media have become increasingly explicit and lurid over recent decades young teenagers have been increasingly sexualised, and many youngsters suffer the related miseries of early and inappropriate sexual initiation. Yet health and sex education policies have facilitated, and not discouraged, illicit teenage sex. This has meant sustained high levels of sexually transmitted disease, lone-parent families and abortion.

The changes in the CSF bill amount to pouring petrol on the fire.

The most important thing at this point is for the MPs considering the bill during its coming committee stage to scrutinise the evidence carefully. Critically they should not accept false claims that school-based sex education reduces teenage pregnancy and abortion, but should examine the evidence themselves.

The government defended tonight its plans to abolish parents' right to withdraw older teenagers from sex education classes. The government says that it's nonsensical that older teenagers can be told by their parents they can't have such classes. The government's defence shows that it doesn't trust parents to deliver the pro-abortion propaganda it wants teenagers to hear in such classes. It is important that all parents, who have legal responsibility for their children until they leave school, retain the right to withdraw them from sex education classes. Retaining this right may help to have a positive effect on the content of school SRE lessons, forcing them to pay attention to the values and moral standards of parents. This may put a break on some of the worst excesses of school-based sex education.

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