St Albans parents react to sex education leaflet
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St Albans city centre has been targeted by a conservative religious campaign condemning upcoming changes to school sex education policies.
RSE Schoolgate claims it wants to alert parents to the change in legislation in order to help them to "protect their child from confusion and sexualisation in lessons". It claims that parents are the best people to decide how and when sex education should be taught.
The organisation, which is affiliated to the fundamentalist group Anglican Mainstream, has been distributing leaflets which claim: "Teaching children from a very early age that they might be one of two per cent of the population who have sexual love for their own sex, hijacks and potentially perverts the course of natural child development. If a young girl 'loves' her same-sex best friend, she could be led to think, utterly erroneously, 'I am gay'."
The Department for Education is introducing compulsory Relationships Education for primary pupils and Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) for secondary pupils from September 2020. It will also become compulsory for all schools to teach health education.
The DfE said: "Throughout our engagement process as we developed this curriculum, we have heard a number of wide-ranging concerns."
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Schools will deliver relationships or sex education as part of a timetabled PSHE programme which is already the case in many schools.
The Herts Ad asked readers for their reactions to RSE Schoolgate's campaign.
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St Albans resident Polly Jordan said: "Massive overreaction and exaggeration!
"Most schools have written to parents to inform them what they intend to cover in RSE lessons. Those lessons are important to equip students for adult life. This is done gradually as the child grows up and is age appropriate."
Claire Willott said: "Talking about llamas has not made me a llama. Talking about llamas to my children has not made them one either.
"I talk about the road rules so they can be encouraged to cross the road safely. I talk about sexual rules with them to so that they can engage in sex safely too."
Monir Ali said: "Surely this education has to come from home and parents at the right age, right time in the child's life. I feel that any primary school age is not the right time. All my daughter cared about from three to 12 was skipping, squishies, and books."
George Tsafandakis said: "As a general principle I believe anything that is presented in schools must be based on objective truth and support the duty of care to children.
"As a parent of teenagers I am highly concerned about the over-sexualisation of society especially as children are not mentally developed enough to deal with it."
Jen Johnson thinks it is a positive change to the law: "The kids that are withdrawn from these lessons are the ones that need them most."
St Albans resident Paul MacDonald said: "It's a free speech society we enjoy, but this does leave a bit of a bad taste in my mouth."
The RSE Schoolgate campaign also attributes the UK's highest number of pregnancies in Europe, sexually transmitted infections among teens and an increase of "child-on-child sexual assaults" to the current sex education policies in our schools. It urges parents who are unhappy with sex education teaching to withdraw their children from lessons.
Ben Grant said: "Some of the claims in this leaflet seem on the spurious side, to say the least."
The DfE state that: "To embrace the challenges of creating a happy and successful adult life, pupils need knowledge that will enable them to make informed decisions about their wellbeing, health and relationships and to build their self-efficacy.
Pastoral director of Verulam School Dan Tansley said: "Verulam is pleased to be an early adopter of the new RSE framework.
"Pupils are positive about sex and relationship education as part of their wider PSHE curriculum.
"Whether is is through dedicated lessons or via presentations from specialists, they respond with interest and maturity. For example, Year 9 are asked to consider healthy relationships through 'Chelsea's Story', a drama workshop."
For more information on sex and relationships education visit tinyurl.com/rllzrtv