Children in Scottish schools should not worry about breaking the law if they have sex at 13, according to new lesson plans drawn up for the Scottish Government.
The draft Relationships, Sexual Health and Parenthood (RSHP) resource suggests teaching pupils aged 12 to 14 that although sex under the age of 16 is illegal, those aged 13 and over could engage in sexual activity without fear of reprimand.
Critics say it would effectively lower the age of consent.
The lesson plan says that one or both children “might be at risk of being prosecuted” if two 13 to 15-year-olds have sex, but adds prosecution would be very unusual “if both young people are happy”.
It tells teachers that the age of consent “is really to protect young people from adults, not make them feel worried or frightened”.
It does note that if someone over the age of 16 has sex with a minor, they are breaking the law.
“This bypasses parliament and is an affront to democracy.”
Chris McGovern of the Campaign for Real Education said: “The intention of this draft resource is, in effect, to lower the age of consent without a change in legislation. This bypasses parliament and is an affront to democracy.”
Family Education Trust Director Norman Wells said: “Schools that follow this ill-advised resource will be giving children the impression that engaging in sexual activity under the age of 16 is no big deal.
“Such messages leave young teenage girls vulnerable to predatory male approaches.”
A spokesman for the Scottish Government said it encourages young people to delay sexual activity “until they are ready”, but the age of consent would remain at 16.
The statement added that young people were encouraged to practise safe sex “if they do become sexually active”.