Sex ed lobby demands end to parents’ opt-out

The sex education lobby is piling pressure on the the Government to scrap parents’ right to withdraw their children from controversial new sex education lessons.

Sexual health groups including Brook and the FPA (formerly the Family Planning Association) have made the calls in response to a Government consultation on plans to make sex education compulsory.

The groups claim that more sex education is needed from an earlier age to tackle teenage pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections.

However, critics point out that this approach has so far been unsuccessful on both counts.

Commentator Gerald Warner responded to the groups’ calls, asking: “Since when did charities dictate the rights of parents?”

He added: “Since even the sex campaigning fanatics admit that, deplorably, only four out of every 10,000 parents currently exercise their right to withdraw children from increasingly obscene and nihilistic ‘sex education’, it is impossible for them to argue that so small an element could significantly affect the ‘healthy’ outcomes they allegedly seek to achieve. So, why bother to campaign for a change in the law?

“Because totalitarianism means exactly that: total conformity of everybody with the politically correct consensus, with no exceptions tolerated.”

Norman Wells, Director of the Family Education Trust, also opposes the calls for parents to lose their opt-out.

He said: “It is of vital importance that schools retain discretion and flexibility in order to ensure parents remain free to withdraw their children from sex education lessons”.

However, Brook Chief Executive Simon Blake said: “Our belief is you cannot reconcile children’s rights to high-quality sex and relationships education with the parental right of withdrawal”.

He continued: “The right of withdrawal needs to be removed.”

Both Brook and the FPA have been behind controversial sex education schemes which family campaigners have warned will simply encourage early sexual activity.

Last month Brook announced a programme where boys of 13 would be issued with “credit cards” allowing them to pick up free condoms at football grounds and scout huts.

Last September the FPA prompted a storm when it launched a new sex education ‘comic’ for primary school children, with a puzzle asking them to draw a line from the words “vagina” and “testicles” to the correct areas on pictures of a naked girl and boy.

Earlier this month commentator Yasmin Alibhai-Brown blasted the Government’s sex education policy.

She said: “British children know enough already about sex; it shouts at them from billboards, whispers to them in magazines and newspapers, entices them on the internet and on TV, and consumes them in modern books for children, too.”

Commenting on news that a pilot scheme aimed at reducing teenage pregnancy through sex education had actually seen rates increase, she wrote: “By any reckoning, it is a monumental failure.

“Yet I predict that all those on the Left will yet again insist that only more sex education will help free these young women.

“They will insist that only this can free them from the fate that otherwise awaits them, repeating the cycle of teen parenthood through future generations.

“But how can this be right? It makes no sense to me at all, repeating a prescription that is manifestly failing.”

The Department for Children, Schools and Families is holding a public consultation on sex education and will accept responses until the 24 July deadline.

Parents currently have the right to withdraw their children from sex education under the 1996 Education Act.

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