Plans for lessons teaching children as young as five about homosexuality and transgenderism have come under fire from parents and MPs.
Yesterday afternoon, Education Secretary Damian Hinds announced that pupils of all ages will have compulsory lessons from September 2020, with Relationships Education for primary-aged children and Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) for secondary students.
Currently, parents may withdraw their children from lessons covering the sex aspect, up to age 18, but this will be lowered to 15.
The Christian Institute’s Director Colin Hart criticised the guidance.
He said: “No one objects to trying to make children safer online by teaching them about the dangers of social media. But primary-aged children are far too young to be learning about the radical political agendas being promoted by homosexual and transgender lobby groups.
“Topics such as same-sex marriage are far better left until secondary school. Even then, parents should be able to withdraw their children from lessons they deem unsuitable.
“The Education Secretary maintains that such controversial issues are not crucial aspects of Relationships Education. If that is the case, why not remove them from the guidance?”
Announcing the guidance in the House of Commons, Mr Hinds did concede there are “understandable and legitimate areas of contention”.
The guidance stipulates that the parental opt-out will remain, unless there are “exceptional circumstances” and the head teacher thinks their wishes should be overruled.
Sir Edward Leigh MP pointed out that previous governments “have recognised that religious people, and indeed non-religious people, have their own justifiable formal belief about the best way to teach sex education”.
He said that previously parents had been given “an untrammelled right” to remove their children from sex education, decrying the changes as “a fundamental shift of power to the state”.
A separate parliamentary debate took place late yesterday following a petition signed by more than 107,000 parents who objected to the plans.
It said: “We have grave concerns about the physical, psychological and spiritual implications of teaching children about certain sexual and relational concepts”.
And it added that, as parents, the signatories believe such issues “have no place within a mandatory school curriculum”.
Speaking in the Westminster Hall debate, Christian MP Fiona Bruce argued that compulsory sex education in schools is “wrong”.
She also criticised the weakening of parental opt-out from sex education, saying “no attempt is made to define what ‘exceptional circumstances’ are”.
She added that the regulations “remove the right of withdrawal from parents and place it in the hands of the head teacher, who in effect will have total discretion to make the decision, with no requirement to explain it in any way”.