New sex-ed guidelines will 'keep children safe'

Damian Hinds

Damian Hinds said sex-ed teaching would be "sensitive and inclusive". Image: Getty

Monday, February 25, 2019

The Education Secretary accepted there were “understandable and legitimate concerns” about sex and relationship education, but said new government guidelines will “keep children safe”.

Some parents have voiced concerns over the new measures, which include teaching secondary school pupils about female genital mutilation.

Speaking to the Commons today, Damian Hinds said parents would "retain the longstanding ability to request their child be withdrawn" from sex education "up to and until three terms before the child reaches age 16".



He added: “At that point if the child wishes to take part in sex education lessons, the head teacher should ensure they receive it in one of those terms."

Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner asked whether assurances could be given that provisions for faith schools to tailor sex education to their pupils would not  “permit teaching that could be hostile or damaging to LGBT young people in particular."

Hinds said that sex education should be “age appropriate” and that the syllabus should not be “hostile to any group”.


'No evidence' that sex-ed harms children

Although the new guidelines allow parents to withdraw their children in “exceptional circumstances”, more than 100,000 people signed a petition calling on this right to be extended to all parents.

The petition’s organisers said they had “grave concerns about the physical, psychological and spiritual implications of teaching children about certain sexual and relational concepts proposed in RSE and believe that they have no place within a mandatory school curriculum.”

Speaking in a debate in Westminster Hall on the petition, Warrington North MP Helen Jones said there was “no evidence whatsoever” that sex education did more harm than good.

Ms Jones said it was “essential” that children be given proper sex and relationship education, and warned that parents could not fully control what their children see online.

Ms Jones added: “28 per cent of 11-year-olds have viewed online pornograpy, and unless we want them to grow up thinking that is a proper relationship then we need to do something.”