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European Parliament adopts report calling for comprehensive SRE in schools

The European Parliament in Strasbourg. Photo credit: dg/Flickr

The European Parliament in Strasbourg. Photo credit: dg/Flickr

In a vote held in the European Parliament yesterday afternoon, MEPs overwhelmingly voted to adopt the Rodrigues report on ‘Empowering girls through education in the EU’. Adopted with 408 votes in favour and only 236 against (with 40 abstentions), the report calls on EU Member States to ‘improve measures to apply gender equality at all levels of the education system’, particularly stressing the need to introduce comprehensive sex and relationships education (SRE) in schools if this to be achieved.

The news has been welcomed by the the British Humanist Association (BHA), which campaigns for compulsory SRE in Britain and supported the European Humanist Federation (EHF) in lobbying for the report’s adoption.

Written by Portuguese MEP Liliana Rodrigues, the report states that ‘sensitive, age-appropriate and scientifically accurate sex and relationship education is an essential tool in the empowerment of girls and boys’ and calls not only for the introduction of compulsory SRE, but also for other subjects to be coherent and compatible with the principles taught as part of that curriculum. Elsewhere, the report also highlights the need to tackle homophobic and transphobic bullying in schools, as well as encouraging member states to enable girls and boys to challenge traditional and restrictive gender stereotypes.

Despite passing with a sizeable majority, however, the report faced significant opposition from a number of conservative religious groups, including the European Evangelical Alliance (EEA) and La Manif Pour Tous, both of which called on MEPs to reject the report. Indeed, a series of ‘split votes’ on the specific paragraphs related to sex education in schools was held at the request of several MEPs. Happily, efforts to defeat the report were unsuccessful.

BHA Director of Campaigns and Public Affairs, and Vice President of the EHF, Pavan Dhaliwal, commented, ‘We’re absolutely delighted that the report has been approved with such an overwhelming majority of support and we hope that many of the EU’s member states will now move to implement its recommendations. As the report notes, all the evidence indicates that comprehensive and fully inclusive SRE in schools leads to the best outcomes in terms of sexual health, unplanned pregnancies, homophobia, gender stereotyping, and violence against women. It’s well past time that SRE is introduced in all schools and we will continue to campaign for that change both in the UK and at a European level.’

Notes

For further comment or information please contact BHA Director of Campaigns and Public Affairs Pavan Dhaliwal on pavan@humanism.org.uk or 0207 324 3065.

Read the full report ‘Empowering girls through education in the EU’: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//TEXT+REPORT+A8-2015-0206+0+DOC+XML+V0//EN

See how MEPs voted on the specific SRE paragraphs of the report here (p.153-162): http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-%2f%2fEP%2f%2fNONSGML%2bPV%2b20150909%2bRES-RCV%2bDOC%2bPDF%2bV0%2f%2fFR&language=FR

Read more about the BHA’s campaigns work on personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE) and SRE: https://humanism.org.uk/campaigns/schools-and-education/school-curriculum/pshe-and-sex-and-relationships-education/

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.

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