Young people should be forced to learn about homosexual relationships in school with no right of withdrawal from lessons, the National Secular Society (NSS) has said.
Writing in the Huffington Post, NSS Campaigns Director Stephen Evans said allowing religious parents to take their children out of lessons which undermine their beliefs is ‘unacceptable’.
He was responding to Government plans for statutory Relationships Education in primary schools, and Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) in secondary schools, outlined last week.
It is feared that both subjects could include teaching on homosexual and bisexual relationships, as well as same-sex parenting and same-sex marriage.
The Government has made clear that primary-level Relationships Education will include no parental right of withdrawal. Secondary-level RSE is likely to uphold this right.
However the NSS, whose campaign goal is to achieve “freedom of & from religion”, believes parents should be powerless to protect their children from secondary lessons as well.
‘Retarded by religion’
Evans wrote: “The Government’s ‘21st century relationships and sex education’ will not be worthy of that billing if it allows young people’s rights to be retarded by religion.”
He said that schools are an “ideal place” to encourage a “sexually autonomous younger generation”, and decried a lack of “explicit reference to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in the proposals”.
Simon Calvert, Deputy Director for Public Affairs at The Christian Institute, said: “It’s no surprise that the National Secular Society should want compulsory teaching of secular beliefs. But parents, not strangers in the classroom, are the ones best-placed to oversee their children’s education. They must be free to fulfil their God-given role.
“It cannot be right to trample all over the rights of millions of Christian, Muslim and Jewish families – to do so would be to sideline freedom itself.”
The Government’s plans for Relationships Education and RSE were waved through by MPs in the Commons this week and will now have to be agreed by the Lords.
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