Government denies sex ed opt out for faith schools in England

The Government has come under pressure after faith groups secured an amendment to a Bill that would allow faith schools to teach sex education according to their ethos.

The amendment was tabled this week by Education Secretary Ed Balls after extensive lobbying by the Catholic Education Service for England and Wales.

It seeks to protect the ability of schools with a religious character to teach sex education in accordance with their ethos.

A Bill passing through Parliament next week will make sex education compulsory in schools across England from 2011.

Under the Bill, children as young as five will be taught about puberty and relationships in Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education lessons. Children aged seven to 11 will learn about same-sex relationships, civil partnerships, marriage, divorce and separation, while secondary school children will learn about sexual activity, same-sex relationships, STDs and contraception.

Speaking in the House of Commons last month, Mr Balls gave assurances that parents and school governors would have a say in how sex and relationships education was taught. The Bill also includes a parental opt-out for pupils up to the age of 15.

CESEW said in a document on its website that the teachings of the Church would be upheld and “the innocence of children preserved” in PSHE lessons.

The Catholic Church believes homosexuality to be a sin and strongly opposes the use of contraception, encouraging abstinence instead. It also does not believe cohabitation and civil partnerships should have the same status as marriage.

The Department for Children, Schools and Families has said that faith schools will not be able to opt out of statutory sex education lessons when it comes into effect in September 2011.

The British Humanist Association’s Chief Executive, Andrew Copson, said the Government had u-turned on its commitment to young people by giving a licence to faith schools to teach sex and relationship education “in ways that are homophobic, gender discriminatory and otherwise violate principles of human rights”.

The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children refuted the claim, saying that the amendment would in fact make little difference to what faith schools will be required to teach once statutory sex education comes into place.

Paul Tully, SPUC’s political manager, commented: “There has been no u-turn. Children in faith schools will be subject to the same abusive so-called education as children in other state schools. The government amendment is mere window-dressing.

“The amendment makes no difference to what must be taught in schools. It only restates the principle that allows faith schools to teach sex education ‘in a way’ that reflects the school’s religious character.

“The Liberal Democrats and secularists have confused the ‘way’ sex education is taught with the content.

“The Government’s amendment will not keep pro-abortion and anti-family content out of sex education classes in faith schools.”

 Courtesy of Christian Today at

© 2010 Christian Today. All rights reserved.

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