RSE – Update #3 – The Challenges Ahead

CViE|8 May 2019

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This post provides a further update on the new Relationship and Sex Education (RSE) guidelines.

These were debated in the House of Lords on Wednesday, 24 April 2019 and sadly approved by the House. As they have now been approved by both the House of Commons and the House of Lords they will become statutory with effect from September 2020 (although schools are encouraged to introduce them in September 2019).

Will Smith in a hard-hitting post “Peers crush parents forcing schools to indoctrinate children in LGBT dogma” on the Faith and Politics website identified that

Time after time in the debate, peers argued that the rights of parents needed to be ‘balanced’ with the rights of children, by which they meant the rights of the State to educate children according to its idea of their best interests.

Baroness Massey, for instance, referred to the ‘rights of children to receive information and develop good attitudes towards sexuality and relationships’ – completely failing to recognise that what is in dispute here is what constitutes a ‘good attitude’ towards sexuality. That is precisely where the religious and moral convictions of thousands of parents conflict with the agenda of the sexual progressives eager to assure children that all consensual sexual activity is good and healthy.

There were also numerous references during the debate to the needs of ‘LGBT kids,’ ‘LGBT pupils’ and the like – with no recognition that projecting adult labels and sexual identities like gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender onto immature children is a category error and wholly inappropriate. If the idea of a ‘gay child’ is what progressives have in mind as an objective fact then they are going to find themselves with an argument on their hands.

Another big problem with talking about teaching facts and being objective is that people differ on which facts they think are relevant and ought to be taught to young people”.

There were, however, those who were prepared to speak out regarding their concerns over the proposed draft guidelines. Lord Curry of Kirkhale expressed many of the concerns in the letter sent to ‘sympathetic’ members of the House of Lords and Lord Curry subsequently emailed CViE to thank them for their letter.

In his speech, Lord Curry noted that “There is a long-established right, as has been said, for parents to withdraw their children from subjects where there is likely to be teaching that clashes with the views of the family. Religious education and sex education are the two most notable areas. This is for very good reason: it is an acknowledgement that the responsibility for children’s moral and religious education lies first and foremost with parents. That is not a role that the state should be taking to itself. We in this place should not be cutting across or undermining the influence of parents. The most common theme in all the correspondence I have received is that the Bill is a potential erosion of parental rights and further evidence of the nanny state taking control”.

These views were also expressed by others and the contributions of Lord Morrow of Clogher Valley and Lord McCrea of Magherafelt and Cookstown were particularly forceful. Lord Mcrea reminded the House “that the responsibility to raise our children is one that is given not by man but by God. Children are a gift from God. The scriptures tell us that children are the heritage of the Lord. Parenthood is given by God and parents carry a God-given responsibility and authority for raising children”.

The concern that CViE has expressed over the draft guidance, throughout the consultations and passage through the House of Commons and Lords, regarding parental responsibility and the government (state) imposing teaching on children contrary to their parents beliefs and wishes are still valid and remain a concern to us in the battle for the minds of our children.

The Department for Education have emphasised, throughout the passing of these regulations, that parents have an important role in contributing to the schools RSE policy. This was emphasised in a recent document published by the DfE “Relationships education, relationships and sex education (RSE) and health education: FAQs”:

Q: Will my child’s school have to consult with me before teaching these subjects?

A: Schools will be required to consult with parents when developing and reviewing their policies for Relationships Education and RSE, which will inform schools’ decisions on when and how certain content is covered. Effective consultation gives the space and time for parents to input, ask questions, share concerns and for the school to decide the way forward. Schools will listen to parent’s views, and then make a reasonable decision as to how they wish to proceed. What is taught, and how, is ultimately a decision for the school and consultation does not provide a parental veto on curriculum content.

A school’s policies for these subjects must be published online and must be available to any individual free of charge. Schools should also ensure that, when they consult parents, they provide examples of the resources they plan to use, for example the books they will use in lessons”.

This is all very well and good, however, unless Christian parents are prepared to make the effort to find out what is happening in their children’s school then the opportunity will be wasted. If ever there was a time for Christian’s to be sober and vigilant (1 Peter 5: 8), then it is now.

Once the finalised “Relationships education, relationships and sex education (RSE) and health education” has been published, then CViE will make available to parents (and other interested individuals) material to help them take an active role in determining the content of their children’s school SRE policy.

The speeches referred to in post can be watched by clicking on the name of the peer:

Lord Curry of Kirkhale; Lord Morrow and Lord McCrea of Magherafelt and Cookstown and the full Hansard record of the debate can be found by clicking here.

The Barnabas fund have published a helpful account of the proceedings in the House of Lords and supplement this post. The account can be found by clicking here.

Will Smiths post can be found by clicking here.

[Links to other websites may not necessarily reflect the opinions and beliefs of Christian Values in Education but are included for information only and not as an endorsement.]

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