EDINBURGH, May 15, 2014 ( – While Scottish government draft guidelines currently allow teachers with moral objections to opt-out of certain aspects of the country’s new sex-ed curriculum, several National Health Service boards have objected to the opt-out clause. They are also objecting to provisions allowing parents to opt their children out of the classes.

Currently, the guidelines require teachers who have a moral objection to things like teaching about gay “marriage” to opt out, if alternative arrangements are made “where possible.” But that’s not good enough, according to a submission from NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde. 

“It is extremely concerning that teaching staff would be provided an opportunity to refuse to participate in this particular aspect of the curriculum,” said the board, one of the largest in the country. 

Sex education can be compared, they said, to “other areas of the taught curriculum where conscience may be a factor and no option to withdraw is provided.” 


Another NHS board warned against allowing parents too much influence over children, saying that the decision about whether to attend the classes should be left up to the students, even if their parents object. The Dumfries and Galloway health board said that by allowing students to opt-out, this opens the students up to being intimidated by their parents. 

NHS Lanarkshire said, “Where there is a conflict between the views of the child and the parents the rights of the child should be paramount.” The Lanarkshire submission asked MSPs to ensure that “no child is denied the right of access to this education because of the personal beliefs of a professional, a fellow pupil, or the parents of another pupil.” 

Other health chiefs warned that teaching about “the values of a stable and loving family life” would be discriminatory, since not all children come from such homes, reports The Telegraph. Others also objected to the phrase “both sexes” arguing that it was “problematic” for transgender students. 

The submission by the NHS of Dumfries and Galloway warned, “As we move forward into an era where same‐sex marriage is permitted, there may be significant campaigns by parents in relation to (sex education) which alludes to same‐sex unions and there is a need to protect programmes from activities of this sort.” 

The Daily Telegraph quoted an unnamed spokesman of the Scottish government saying the government has “sought views from various organisations and individuals.” 

“We are considering carefully the comments we have received and will publish an updated version in due course.” 

Christian groups have criticized the responses from the NHS board. A statement from Catholic and Presbyterian spokesmen have accused the NHS of having the “wrong priorities” after noting the long wait times in emergency rooms in Scottish hospitals.

Scotland for Marriage told media that the NHS should be applying its efforts to solve the serious problems in provision of health care in the province, not “using their influence to actively undermine the rights and consciences of parents and teachers.”

“Ultimately, this is a highly political intervention and one which is wholly inappropriate for publicly funded bodies. They are free to hold traditional family values in contempt, but they don’t have the right to tell parents and teachers what to believe.”