Pupils at schools around Brighton and Hove have been offered tests for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) during lessons as part of a sexual health programme.
In a move criticised by parents, children under the age of consent were given STI tests without their parents’ knowledge.
The tests are part of a scheme known to be operating in nine schools in the Brighton and Hove area as part of personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education.
Parents at Blatchington Mill School in East Sussex criticised teachers for not informing them of the tests.
The mother of one teenage girl described the scheme as “humiliating” and said her daughter refused the test because it made her feel “uncomfortable”.
She said: “I didn’t know anything about it beforehand and I think the school should have let us know as parents that our children were going to be asked to do this.”
NHS guidance from 2012 states that under-16s can consent to the test without parental knowledge if they cannot be persuaded to tell their parents.
Norman Wells, director of the Family Education Trust, warned against normalising the idea of being sexually active as a teenager.
He said: “Offering pupils an STI test in PSHE lessons is sending out the message that they are expected to be sexually active and at risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection.
“Putting the thought into young people’s minds that getting tested for STIs is a normal part of adult life runs the risk of becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.”
Mr Wells added: “Schools would do far better to spell out the physical, emotional and social benefits of saving sex for marriage.”
This week there have also been calls to extend controversial human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines to adolescent boys.
Scientists are expected to meet next week to discuss whether the vaccinations should be extended to boys as well as girls.
The Royal Society for Public Health is among several health bodies calling for the vaccination to be offered to boys as young as 12.