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MPs debated Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) in primary schools yesterday, during an adjournment debate brought forth by Andrea Leadsom, Conservative MP for South Northamptonshire. The British Humanist Association (BHA) briefed peers ahead of the debate, calling for schools to provide high quality and comprehensive SRE.
Andrea Leadsom, in setting out her aims for the debate, called on ‘first, the Government to make sure that material taught in primary schools is appropriate, not sexually explicit and not exploitative of our young children. Secondly, I would like to ensure that school governors are required to be actively aware of what kind of material is being used in their schools and to take a sensible and responsible view on the matter. Thirdly, and most importantly, I want parents to be able genuinely to have their say and to be made actively aware of what kind of sex education is being taught to their children. I want there to be a system whereby parents take a decision on whether to allow their children to be taught sex education and have to opt into the lessons, rather than having to opt out as is the currently the case.’
Minister of State for Schools Nick Gibb reassured MPs that, despite campaigns such as the Christian Institute’s ‘Too Much, Too Young’, purporting to expose SRE being taught to early, the Government was unable to find any evidence of this happening. My Gibb particularly commended the work of the Sex Education Forum, of which the BHA is a member.
BHA Faith Schools Campaigner Richy Thompson commented, ‘It is certainly important that SRE is age-appropriate, and good SRE in primary schools should focus on friendships, relationships, personal wellbeing and going through puberty. But on the other hand, we believe that all young people should receive comprehensive SRE, and there should be no parental opt-out, as it is vital that children are equipped with the knowledge they need to ensure they make informed, healthy decisions throughout life.’
For further comment or information, please contact Richy Thompson on 020 7462 4993.
The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. It promotes a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief. The BHA contributes to debate on a wide range of ethical issues from stem cell research to sex education. The BHA is a member of the National Children’s Bureau Sex Education Forum (SEF) and the Children’s Rights Alliance for England.