Protect relationships and sex education

Protect relationships and sex education

Age-appropriate relationships and sex education should be every child’s right.

Relationships and sex education is vital to keep children safe.

But religion remains one of the biggest barriers to ensuring all children receive suitable RSE.

Help us challenge religious threats to the education and welfare of children and young people.

Age-appropriate education about relationships is the right of every child.

Relationships and sex education (RSE) is essential for protecting children and young people's health and wellbeing – including safeguarding them from abuse and exploitation. When properly taught, RSE ensures students are equipped with the knowledge, understanding, skills and confidence to cope with the many pressures and challenges of adult life.

RSE should therefore be taught in all schools – including faith schools.

But throughout the UK, faith schools are given license to teach RSE from their own religious viewpoint. This leads to distorted, and sometimes discriminatory, lessons about relationships and sex. Our research found many state-funded faith schools teach that same-sex relationships, sex outside of marriage and contraception are morally wrong.

  • 77% of state-funded faith schools distort sex education by teaching the subject in accordance with religious scripture.
  • One in three teachers says faith acts as a 'barrier' to discussing LGBT+ topics in school Amongst those who work at faith schools, this increases to 46%.

Furthermore, parents in England, Northern Ireland and Scotland can opt their children out of sex education classes. This leaves behind children from conservative religious backgrounds, who most need impartial, appropriate education in this area.

Although comprehensive RSE is extremely well supported across the education community, those opposed are extremely active. Several anti-RSE campaigns set up by groups with a fundamentalist religious agenda spread misinformation about RSE, and in some cases seek to intimidate schools and authorities attempting to deliver RSE. These campaigns have been extremely divisive and damaging to community relationships. The government has published guidance for primary schools facing disruption from religious groups who oppose teaching about same-sex relationships.

Schools and educators will have different approaches to RSE. But in all cases, the education and welfare of children and young people should be prioritised above religious agendas.

Take action!

1. Write to your MP

Tell your MP that religious concerns shouldn't undermine inclusive RSE.

2. Share your story

Tell us why you support this campaign, and how you are personally affected by the issue. You can also let us know if you would like assistance with a particular issue.

3. Join us

Become a member of the National Secular Society today! Together, we can separate religion and state for greater freedom and fairness.