Scots NHS slams sex ed guide over conscience protections

Several Scottish NHS boards have criticised the Government’s provision of safeguards for traditional marriage supporters in its draft sex education guidance.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde – the country’s largest health board – said it is “extremely concerning that teaching staff would be provided an opportunity to refuse to participate in this particular aspect of the curriculum”. 

Campaigners have said, however, that the guide’s efforts to provide conscience protections  don’t go far enough and added that the safeguards for traditional marriage supporters are ‘woeful’.


The Greater Glasgow and Clyde board compared sex education lessons to ‘other areas of the taught curriculum where conscience may be a factor and no option to withdraw is provided’.

NHS Lanarkshire, one of the eight health boards, which also responded to the draft guidance, said: “Where there is a conflict between the views of the child and the parents the rights of the child should be paramount.”

It argued that this would ensure that the ‘Getting It Right For Every Child’ (GIRFEC) approach is at the “centre of all legislation surrounding children”. The controversial ‘named person’ scheme that has been widely criticised for undermining parents is part of the GIRFEC approach.


Scotland for Marriage, a campaign which garnered over 50,000 signatures against same-sex marriage, responded to the draft guidance and said it fell “woefully short” of providing adequate safeguards.

The draft guidance states that if a teacher, child or young person is asked to do something against his or her conscience, the Scottish Government only expects “alternative arrangements to be made where possible”.

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