A Government plan to centralise control of sex education in Whitehall will threaten parental choice and may squeeze Christian teachers out of their jobs, a top lawyer says.
John Bowers QC, a leading employment barrister, says the plans will shift control of sex education away from school governors, making it harder for parents to have any influence.
He says the proposals may, in effect, discriminate against religious parents who are unable to consider alternatives to government-maintained schools.
The plans are contained in the Children Schools and Families Bill. There is not enough time left before the General Election for the Bill to complete its stages in Parliament.
The Government will need the co-operation of the Opposition if the plans are to become law.
In a legal opinion produced jointly for The Christian Institute and CARE, Mr Bowers says the Bill “represents a radical appropriation of power by central government, enabling them to dictate teaching on a matter over which many parents have strongly held moral or religious convictions.”
He also said: “It seems that the Government intends that the Bill would not require that parents be consulted about the content of SRE.”
He added that the effect of the changes “would therefore be to limit parental freedom of choice in the area of their children’s education.”
He also warns that Christian teachers could face dismissal if they refuse to teach children that unmarried sexual unions should be valued on a par with marriage.
He said it “is easy to see that many would-be teachers might be discouraged from going into teaching and many existing teachers might be under pressure to consider their position.”
The Christian Institute’s Mike Judge said: “A Whitehall grab for control over sex education will take influence and choice away from those who know children best, their parents.
“People have all sorts of different views on sexual ethics. A bureaucratic one-size-fits all policy dictated from London is likely to ride roughshod over those with differing opinions.
“I also fear for Christian teachers who may be placed in an impossible position.”