Proposed guidelines on Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) risk “ghettoising” religious beliefs, the Church of England has said.
From 2020, RSE will be compulsory for all secondary schools in England, with Relationships Education taught in all primaries.
In its response to the Department for Education’s consultation, which closed on Wednesday, the CofE warned the teaching will “problematise religion” and “exceptionalise people of faith”.
The CofE complained that religious perspectives on relationships are not going to be encouraged in the guidance, leading to negative stereotypes of religious people.
It added that the guidance could be in breach of the Equality Act 2010 – which lists religious belief as a protected characteristic – if it allowed such stigmatisation to occur.
The CofE’s Chief Education Officer, Nigel Genders, said the draft guidance wrongly implies that teaching on religious beliefs in RSE is only relevant to pupils attending schools with a religious ethos.
“This, we believe, serves to problematise religion, rather than giving children and young people the skills and knowledge they need for life in pluralistic communities with diverse belief, faith, religion and culture.”
‘Controversial political agendas’
In Scotland, Education Secretary John Swinney has announced that all schools will be required to teach about LGBT rights in all subjects.
The teaching would include lessons on LGBT identities and terminology.
Speaking for The Christian Institute, Deputy Director Simon Calvert said that parents “don’t want to see controversial political agendas embedded across the curriculum”.
“There are a diversity of beliefs about LGBT issues in Scotland. The approach adopted by the Scottish Government assumes there is only one acceptable view.”
He added that children from families who do not subscribe to the state-sanctioned view “will be made to feel isolated in their schools”.
“LGBT activists are often highly intolerant of traditional religious views and the people who hold them.”
He added: “There is already a great deal of emphasis on LGBT issues in schools. Perhaps the time and money would be better spent on trying to improve education for everyone, instead of promoting LGBT politics.”