Wednesday 8 September 2010

Beware of the false claims made about sex education in House of Commons today

Chris Bryant, MP for Rhondda, provided much misinformation when he introduced in the House of Commons today his bill to force all schools to provide sex education. His claims about sex education in other European countries were roundly criticised.

Antonia Tully of SPUC’s Safe at School campaign told the media after the debate:
“The way forward for the new Coalition government is to champion parents’ rights to control their children’s education in human sexuality. The government needs to trust parents. Sex education was one of the main planks of Labour’s 10 year Teenage Pregnancy Strategy, which failed to deliver, and saw record levels of teenage abortions.”
Opponents of the bill did not divide the house. Although the bill has little chance of becoming law for procedural reasons, MPs are expected to try to promote compulsory sex education in the Government’s review of the curriculum later in the year.

Mrs Tully also said:
“Mr Bryant claimed that the countries with the lowest teenage pregnancy rates provided comprehensive sex education. Last year a survey of sex and relationships education in eighteen countries around the world found that the five with the lowest teenage birth rates had no law forcing schools to provide comprehensive sex education. The study was conducted by the National Foundation for Educational Research, and published by the QCDA.

“Mr Bryant’s proposals are based on misleading and false claims about the evidence of the impact of sex education. We need to make our MPs fully aware of the research into classroom sex education, and the need to respect the domain of parents and families.”
During the debate, Mr Bryant's claims were countered by Thérèse Coffey, MP for Suffolk Coastal, who pointed to the low teenage pregnancy rate in countries such as Italy which do not have compulsory sex education. She also cited the work of sex education researchers in Scotland, where a large scale study found that teenage pregnancy and abortion rates could not be reduced by enhancing classroom sex and relationships education.

SPUC has produced a briefing responded to other false claims about sex and relationships education made by the Terrence Higgins Trust.

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