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National Secular Society

Challenging Religious Privilege

Sex Education: Government amendment is betraying children in faith schools

The Government is bowing to religious pressure and amending the Children Schools and Families Bill today to allow faith schools to teach about contraception and homosexuality in their own way. The National Secular Society’s Executive Director Keith Porteous Wood opposes the amendment on the following grounds:

1. There is a greater, not lesser, need for objective sex education, for example on contraception and homosexuality, for children of parents with faith backgrounds – especially Catholic and minority faith backgrounds. They are more likely to have neglected sex education altogether because of their religious dogma.

2. The amendment is an infringement of children’s human rights as it is likely to deny them objective information necessary for their future wellbeing.

3. It is cruel and damaging to teach gay children — or children who may become gay — (as religious bodies frequently do) that homosexuality is an “objective disorder” and a “strong tendency ordered towards an intrinsic moral evil.1

4. A major six-year study commissioned by the US Congress, released in 20072, has found that young people who took part in chastity programmes, much favoured by religious bodies, were just as likely to have sex as those who did not. Unfortunately those not receiving objective sex education are unlikely to take precautions, with devastating consequences for their future lives and those of their children.

5. Once more, the Government looks to be caving in to the demands of religious leaders and the result is that children are being betrayed, with potentially devastating effects on their future lives.

6. Many children of religious parents do not regard themselves as being religious and indeed many of the parents of children in these very many publicly funded religious schools are not of the faith of the school. They deserve better.

1 Per a 1992 Vatican document

2 http://www.abc.net.au/pm/content/2007/s1899734.htm

Published Tue, 23 Feb 2010