After receiving 430 letters all expressing concern over proposed new regulations for Relationships and Sex Education in English schools, the House of Lords will now publicly debate the issue on the Floor of the House before voting, instead of just voting. The House of Commons voted to pass the new regulations on 27 March but the House of Lords still has the power to prevent the Statutory Instrument from becoming law*. The date of the debate has not yet been set.
The House of Lords Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee has exercised its power to bring this legislation to the “special attention” of the House. The Committee’s response said, “Given the significance of these draft Regulations, we draw them to the special attention of the House on the ground that they give rise to issues of public policy likely to be of interest to the House.”
The Committee’s report highlighted many of the letters received from the public and stated that, amongst the correspondents, “There was a very widespread concern to protect the right of parents to educate their own children on matters such as relationships and sexual health.”
“The assumption seems to be growing that it is the state which educates children, assisted by parents. It should always be the other way round. It is the parents’ job to educate, train and guide their children and the state should not take this upon itself.” – a member of the public
Others “ voiced their concern about the age-appropriateness of the content”.
“...concern regarding the erosion of parental rights for their children, especially for those with children as young as 4 being exposed to inappropriate material about marriage, sex and relationships. They cannot understand the concepts being taught about adult relationships and certainly teachers should not replace the role of parents in such matters. To see explicit materials at the age of 4-11 is not helpful to their moral development and can seriously damage their normal growth in all relationships.” – a member of the public
Several also made reference to the government’s failure to adequately respond to the formal consultation.
“[The] Regulations completely ignore the results of the formal consultation upon which they are supposed to be based: in that consultation no less than 64 per cent of responses declared that the proposed content for Relationships & Sex Education at secondary-school level was not “age-appropriate”, while 58 per cent voiced an identical concern about Relationships Education at primary level.” – a member of the public
Parent protests over new sex and sexuality teaching spread in Birmingham and to Manchester
In the wake of the Parkfield Community School protests, five more schools in Birmingham suspended a programme of lessons teaching about homosexuality and transsexualism.
Parents at Anderton Park Primary School in Birmingham gathered in another vocal, week-long protest over similar sexuality lessons. Parents held up placards saying, “LET KIDS BE KIDS” and “Say No to Sexualisation of children”.
The protests have also spread to Manchester, where several schools received letters from parents based on a template shared by a group of Muslim parents who were worried about plans to overhaul sex education in the schools.
Write to Peers
If you know any member of the House of Lords, for example a bishop, please write to them. If you know of any Lord who has particular responsibility or interest in areas of education and family, please also consider contacting them. You can find the names and email addresses of members of the House of Lords on the parliament.uk website or write to them by post at the House of Lords, London SW1A 0PW.
Although the Commons has voted to approve the Statutory Instrument (also called Secondary Legislation) the House of Lords can still vote against the SI and stop it from being passed into law.
To keep track of the progress of the Statutory Instrument, including scheduled debates and votes, you can visit this website: https://beta.parliament.uk/work-packages/A1icZwDq
Barnabas Fund is standing alongside concerned Christian parents, and those of other faith communities, to oppose the government’s proposals to impose Relationships and Sex Education on children as young as four years old and sweep aside parents’ rights to withdraw their children from such lessons. We are working closely with Jewish and other organisations such as The Values Foundation and their campaign to raise awareness and coordinate a response.
We believe that parents must retain the right to withdraw their child of any age from being taught the new curriculum on sex and sexuality whether it is taught as Sex Education, Relationships Education, Health Education or within any other subject. To enable this, the curriculum should be taught in specific, clearly-defined and timetabled classes, and not scattered across a variety of subjects or other school activities. Timetabling information for sex and sexuality teaching should also be freely available to parents.
* The Statutory Instrument, if it becomes law, would apply only to RSE teaching regulations for primary and secondary schools in England.