Warning over the balance, breadth and inclusivity of sex education at many faith schools

May 3, 2018

A new study of sex education policies of state funded secondary faith schools in England has found many state that homosexual acts are wrong. Furthermore, the policies suggest that the sex education provided by many of the schools is taught explicitly from the schools’ particular religious perspective, with little sign that other views are taken into account.

The findings – published this week by the National Secular Society – find many Catholic schools explicitly teach that homosexual activity is wrong, while many other faith schools imply that it is wrong or otherwise cast homosexuality in a negative light. Catholic schools are the most common type of secondary faith school.

The report reveals that some schools express a mistrust and even disdain for commonly held views on sex and relationships in wider society. Many schools, and especially within the Catholic sector, were found to teach abortion and using contraception are wrong.

Chair of the Accord Coalition, the Reverend Stephen Terry, said ‘Faith schools should be able to teach about perspectives in accordance with the tenets of their faith. But this should not come at the expense of delivering core knowledge, editing out different and dissenting voices, or undermining equality.

‘The report highlights the need for the new statutory guidance on Relationships and Sex Education to require schools to promote the full acceptance of LGBT people, to provide information on accessing sexual health services, and to present a balanced range of religious and cultural perspectives on matters related to sex and relationships. The Government must not miss this important opportunity to ensure all school pupils receive thorough, accurate and non-discriminatory sex education.’

The Children and Social Work Act 2017 requires all pupils in England receiving primary education to be taught ‘relationships education’ and those receiving secondary education to be taught ‘relationships and sex education’ from September 2019. The Act requires the Education Secretary to produce statutory guidance on the teaching of these subjects, granting them considerable power to determine what schools teach.

Earlier this year Accord responded to a consultation on the forthcoming guidance and last summer helped a group of 53 faith leaders organise a joint open letter urging the guidance require schools to provide factual information about contraception, abortion and promote the acceptance of LGBT people. Although the Equality Act 2010 prevents schools from discriminating on various grounds, the Act only covers the delivery of a school’s curriculum, not its content.

One Response to Warning over the balance, breadth and inclusivity of sex education at many faith schools

  1. Christopher Clayton on May 7, 2018 at 4:49 pm

    I suppose we would want the teachers to tell pupils that the RC Church teaches this; and many of its members, but not all, accept some of these teachings. In particular it is believed to be the case that many Roman Catholics practice contraception. I would be interested to know what approach my grandson’s school takes — but do not want to be seen as interfering.

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