An activist group in Scotland that promotes secularism is arguing that all schools – including church-sponsored classes – must subject children to a secularist’s view of sex education.
“We believe that Relationships, Sexual Health and Parenthood Education should be mandatory across all state schools, with set curricular content modeled on the successful Dutch model,” said Caroline Lynch, head of the Scottish Secular Society, in a statement about the developing dispute over what will be included in sex education for Scottish schools.
The Scottish government recently released a draft of its plans for sex education, which includes allowances for parents and students to opt out because of their faith.
But the Scottish Secular Society blasted the allowance.
“We accept … that denominational schools and parents of faith must also be allowed to present their faith view of sexual reproduction in addition to the mandatory material,” the society said in its official response to the governmental plan.
But the organization said it disagrees with government recommendations for “the conscience clause.”
“We recognize that some parents, either through concern for the appropriateness of the material taught or through religious stances will wish to opt out. However, the consequences for the child of a lack of good sexual education are far reaching and severe, and so in this case we feel strongly that the right of the child to a good education trumps the right of the parent.”
The society had little concern about objections by religious parents to the materials.
“If we are to be serious about tackling teen pregnancy rates, not to mention the climbing rates of antibiotic resistant sexually transmitted infections, good sex education should be mandatory with a standard curriculum for all schools, including denominational ones.”
The Christian Institute, a British charity that promotes religious liberty, reported a minister, James Tallach, of the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland, argued that teaching sex and relationships in areas of England has caused the rate of unwanted pregnancies to go up. The increase, he said, was accompanied by a hike in sexually transmitted diseases.
The secularists said they would limit what church schools and denominations teach children to information that aligns with the government’s “biological” lessons.
“We are very concerned that the continuing allowance for a conscience opt out means that young people will continue to exit our schooling system with inadequate protection for the dangers of life as a sexually active adult, which include unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted disease,” the statement said.
“We feel that both the course and its content should be mandatory, with no opt outs or exclusions on any grounds.”