Opinion: RSE curriculum approach ‘authoritarian’

Radio headphones and mic sitting on a wooden table

Opinion: RSE curriculum approach ‘authoritarian’

As an educationalist, I agree with the old maxim “Let kids be kids.” That’s why I have major concerns over the new Relationships and Sex Education curriculum (RSE).

It’s beyond me why a Conservative government is pushing this authoritarian approach. The rights and responsibilities of parents to educate their children are paramount.

And what kind of education will schoolchildren be receiving? Due to the pandemic, schools are allowed to delay introducing the new curriculum until next September. Nevertheless, many schools are rushing to introduce the new curriculum – and are relying on the support of outside agencies. Organisations with dubious views are flooding schools with inappropriate lesson resources.

Credit where due: the Department for Education (DfE) is aware that these lessons could be used to push political ideologies. DfE released guidance emphasising the importance of political neutrality in lesson resources, as enshrined in law. The Minister of State for Equalities, Kemi Badenoch, made an impassioned speech at the dispatch box in the House of Commons to remind educators that teaching political ideologies as uncontested facts is indeed illegal.

However, a cursory browse of the most popular teaching resource websites calls into doubt how easily this rule can be enforced. Many of us would see it as an example of a political ideology to state that “Sometimes our gender identity matches our assigned gender (the gender we were told we were when we were born), and sometimes it doesn’t.” But that appears on a widely-used teaching resource.

As well as organisations pushing new ideologies of gender, RSE will be used to promote an understanding of sexuality at odds with Christian belief. Health Minister Matt Hancock was “pleased to announce” that all schools across England will be obliged to teach “LGBT-inclusive relationships and sex education”. It is not hard to see where this will lead: and now parents may well be unable to withdraw their children.

The legal framework will not be enough to protect children; we also need Christian leaders to take a moral stance. The Church of England has unfortunately capitulated, stating: “The Church of England Education Office supports the approach taken by the government, including recommending an age- appropriate provision of sex education at primary level”.

The Catholic Education Service has tried to find a way through, providing resources schools can use to teach the topic without compromising Catholic teaching. But how many schools, even Catholic schools, will be able to avoid succumbing?

Fortunately, some excellent parent-led organisations have stepped up, educating parents and educators to the dangers of gender/queer theory ideologies. A number of parent-educators are also providing resources for schools to use: for instance, Parent Power, who argue that “We are confusing and disturbing our youngest children, all for an ideology … which is now overriding the basic human right of all parents to educate their children according to their own beliefs and values.”

Fertile Heart is another fantastic resource website. Its mission statement is to provide “dynamic and inspiring education program which will deepen the spiritual, moral, emotional and intellectual development of young people.”

Don’t get me wrong: we need to equip children to protect themselves from adults who might want to take advantage, and we need to teach them the scientific terminology to understand their bodies. But schools were doing that already. What this new RSE curriculum does is to push sex education down from secondary schools into primary schools, and allow well-funded activist groups to infiltrate schools’ teaching materials with propaganda.

This comes at a time when transgender theories are already having a major impact on schools. One school in Kent recently reported 15 pupils identifying as genders different from their birth sex.

Schools are using teaching resources that will confuse our children on the all- important topics of biological sex, science, sexuality, law, language and their rights to bodily privacy and dignity. To protect our children, we need to resist the new ideology wherever we can.