I recall my headmaster taking the opportunity of the last scripture lesson of the year to teach the ‘facts of life’ to those of us who were 13 and would be leaving. It was all over in half an hour. And that was it, until a couple of years later, we got a slightly more detail in the Biology O Level syllabus.
It may seem surprising, but we managed to marry and raise families.
Of Course, in those days, we didn’t have easy access to pornography: there were no mobile phones, laptops or internet; hence no internet pornography. Even video was some years off. The best one could manage -if you had the courage – was to reach up to the top shelf for the latest edition of Health and Efficiency, and then avoid the shopkeeper’s disapproving stare as he placed it in a paper bag. Life was a great deal simpler.
Last week I wrote to the Prime Minister together with Miriam Cates MP and other like-minded colleagues, to remind him of a pledge that he made during his leadership campaign: to end inappropriate sex education in our schools.
We enclosed a evidence that many children are being subjected to sex education that is wholly inappropriate. Children are being taught about extreme and dangerous sex acts, encouraged to share intimate details about sexual desires with classmates and teachers, and even primary school children are being indoctrinated with radical ideologies about sex and gender. Many of the resources used would make adults deeply uncomfortable, especially if they were expected to view them in their place of work. It is unconscionable that our children are being forced to engage with such disturbing materials in school.
Many of the resources are produced by external agencies, some of which take extreme and political positions on these issues, including campaigning to end the rights of parents to withdraw their children from sex education. Surprisingly, a number of schools refuse to allow parents to view lesson materials in advance.
It is, of course, important that children are taught about tolerance and discrimination and are expected to treat others with dignity and respect. But exposing children to explicit materials and radical ideologies amounts to the abolition of childhood.
At Prime Minister’s Questions this week, Miriam followed up our letter with this:
“Graphic lessons on oral sex, how to choke your partner safely, 72 genders—this is what passes for relationships and sex education in British schools. Across the country, children are being subjected to lessons that are age-inappropriate, extreme, sexualising and inaccurate, often using resources from unregulated organisations that are actively campaigning to undermine parents. This is not a victory for equality; it is a catastrophe for childhood. Will my right hon. Friend honour his commitment to end inappropriate sex education by commissioning an independent inquiry into the nature and extent of this safeguarding scandal”
The PM replied saying that he shared our concern and that he had tasked the Department for Education to ensure that schools are not teaching inappropriate or contested content in relationships, sex and health education. He said “our priority should always be the safety and wellbeing of children. Schools should also make curriculum content and materials available to parents. As a result of all this, we are bringing forward a review of RSHE statutory guidance and will start our consultation as soon as possible.”
Good, but not before time!
That we have reached this current pass raises the question, have some of teachers entirely taken leave of their senses?