UK Sex Education Lobby Demands End to Parents’ Right to Opt-Out
By Thaddeus M. Baklinski
UK, July 17, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The sex education lobby in the UK is putting pressure on the government to ban parents' rights to withdraw their children from the controversial new sex education program that is slated to become a compulsory part of the National Curriculum from September 2011.
Parents currently have the right to withdraw their children from sex education under the 1996 Education Act.
In response to the Department for Children, Schools and Families' request for public input on the sex education program that would see comprehensive sex-ed begin in Grade 1, "health education" groups such as the Brook Advisory Centres, a sexual health advisory service and registered charity that targets teens, claim that more sex education is needed from an earlier age to tackle teenage pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases, and that parents should not be able to remove their children from the program.
Simon Blake, chief executive of Brook, was quoted as saying: "Our belief is you cannot reconcile children's rights to high-quality sex and relationships education with the parental right of withdrawal. The right of withdrawal needs to be removed."
Kathy French, of the Independent Advisory Group on Sexual Health, said in a Telegraph report, "All parents want to retain some rights but children should have a right to good-quality sex education. It should be mandatory. PSHE (personal, social, health and economic education) should be treated the same as any other aspect of education."
Polemical commentator Gerald Warner responded to the groups' demands in a Telegraph article, asking: "Since when did charities dictate the rights of parents?"
He observed that, "Since even the sex campaigning fanatics admit that, deplorably, only four out of every 10,000 parents currently exercise their right to withdraw children from increasingly obscene and nihilistic 'sex education', it is impossible for them to argue that so small an element could significantly affect the 'healthy' outcomes they allegedly seek to achieve. So, why bother to campaign for a change in the law?
"Because totalitarianism means exactly that: total conformity of everybody with the politically correct consensus, with no exceptions tolerated."
Norman Wells, Director of the UK's Family Education Trust, said his organization supports the right of parents to retain control of their children's education and withdraw their children from the sex education program if they wish.
"It is of vital importance that schools retain discretion and flexibility in order to ensure parents remain free to withdraw their children from sex education lessons," Wells said in a press release.
Critics of the UK Teenage Pregnancy Strategy have noted that the government's sex ed program to reduce teen pregnancy has been a catastrophic failure.
David Paton, Professor of Industrial Economics at Nottingham University Business School, said the Teenage Pregnancy Strategy has been "absolutely disastrous."
Speaking to politicians, regulators and policy advisors at the Westminster Health Forum, Prof. Paton pointed to statistical evidence showing that since the strategy began, diagnoses of sexually transmitted infections have increased and teen pregnancy rates have continued to rise.
"There has been good work in certain areas of raising aspirations and bringing young mothers back into the education system but if you look at how good it has been at reducing pregnancy rates it has been absolutely disastrous," Paton said.
National columnist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown said giving teens more sex education is like repeatedly prescribing a patient with medicine that doesn't work.
"Still the pain continues, so you give them two more and then a specially strong one, refusing to accept the evidence in front of your eyes that the treatment is simply not working," wrote Alibhai-Brown in the Daily Mail.
"Yet that's how the Government has responded to Britain's shamefully high teen pregnancy rates - giving them even more sex education, at a younger and younger age."
Mrs. Alibhai-Brown, who describes herself as a "left-of-centre commentator," calls the Government's plan to introduce sex education for primary school children "a mark of desperation".
The Department for Children, Schools and Families is holding a public consultation on the PSHE sex education program and will accept responses until the 24 July deadline.
A response form is available through the Family Education Trust website at or by calling the Family Education Trust at 020 8894 2525
See related LSN articles:
Groups Furious U.K.'s Faith Schools, Parents to be Given Exemption for Mandatory Explicit Sex-ed Program
UK Announces Mandatory Sex Education for Kindergarteners
£6 Million Government Reduction Program Resulted in More than Twice as Many Teen Pregnancies