With children settling back into school this week, we’ve been raising awareness about many of the problems with the way LGBT issues are covered in primary schools.
Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) will become mandatory in 2020 but many schools are already rushing to implement the new scheme, or teaching the same topics in unhelpful ways. For the sake of simplicity, we will refer to all such lessons as RSE.
It’s easy to feel powerless as if there’s nothing you can do to protect the children you are responsible for from being exposed to unhelpful material.
But in reality, there’s a lot you can do, right now, to shape what your children are being taught in these lessons. In fact, there’s never been a more important time, since what happens this year will help shape what happens in 2020 when the opt-out is removed.
So here are six steps you can take to protect your child and others at their primary school from unhelpful RSE.
It may sound trite to some, but it’s essential to seek God’s help with whatever other steps we may take. We need his wisdom and strength to be Christ-like as we tackle these difficult issues.
There are many who would paint Christians, and others who object to these lessons, as bigots or as hateful. We know that’s not the case, but by displaying love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control, we are more likely to have constructive conversations with those who disagree with us and become living testimonies to God’s goodness.
Know what’s being taught
Under both the current scheme and the new scheme, schools are obligated to inform parents as to what content is being taught in these lessons – and to consult and develop their policy with parents.
There is substantial freedom given to schools to shape their own policies in this area, meaning that the policy at your child’s school could be excellent, terrible, or somewhere in between. Official guidance tells schools to make their policies available online. Be sure to read anything that you already have access to before assuming the worst (or best!)
If there is nothing already available to you, you will need to ask the appropriate school staff members to see the policy. Depending on the type of school and its structure, you may need to contact:
- Your child’s teacher
- The person responsible for the RSE policy
- The head teacher
It will also be well worth asking your child/children what they are being taught; both to see if it’s in line with the policy and to help clarify any confusions.
Make sure they know you’re paying attention
Upon reading the policy, you may have concerns or questions of clarification that you would like to have answers for. Even if you don’t, it is worthwhile to follow up and ask questions. School staff need to know that people with your views are concerned that the teaching in this area is appropriate and that there is thoughtful, determined opposition to the harmful aspects of RSE. Remember that there may well be pressure from LGBT people seeking to change the policy in a negative direction.
Some questions you may want to ask include:
On gender issues
- Might the lessons sow doubt about a child’s ‘real’ gender identity?
- Do the lessons reinforce unhelpful gender stereotypes (e.g. liking pink means you’re really a girl or if you like building you are really a boy)?
On sexuality issues
- Would the material lead to children being confused because their best friends (the people they ‘love’) are of the same sex?
- Does the material teach children to approve of alternative sexualities or simply acknowledge their existence and teach them to be kind?
- What policies do you have in place if I opt my children out of these lessons, and how will you ensure that they aren’t bullied (or ‘made outsiders’) if I do so?
- What training have teachers been given to ensure that Christian (religious) beliefs are respected?
To help you write to the head teacher, we have written an example letter for you to download and customise.
Talk to influencers at the school
If you want to influence how these issues are handled at the school, it will be important to raise awareness and build support for your position.
Who do you know who holds a position of authority at the school and might be sympathetic to the points you are making?
Other parents? People involved in after-school clubs? Governors? The local vicar? Is there anyone from your church who would share your concerns and who you could team up with?
It’s important to lay the groundwork of understanding about any objections you may have with what’s being taught. Point people to critiques of some of the material being used. Explain the wider differences between a Christian approach and a secular liberal approach to relationships.
One supporter recently wrote to us with a wonderful example of this. He produced the following table that neatly shows how the Christian view and the dominant liberal secular worldview differ on many of the unspoken assumptions in this debate. I’ve reproduced a small part of it below:
What is best for society?
Liberal secular worldview:
We fully embrace diversity of expression. We agree that homosexual marriage is equal to heterosexual marriage. But some also argue that polyamorous relationships etc. are acceptable, others do not.
Biblical Christian worldview:
As Christians we believe that the Bible gives God’s clear guidance (in effect his ‘maker’s manual’) for how individuals, families and society can function harmoniously. Without the reliable objective guidance of the Bible, everything is fluid and becomes subject to the whims of fashion and individual preference. Practices that are now considered by many to be acceptable were regarded as completely unacceptable only a generation ago. The consequences of abandoning biblical principles are family and societal breakdown, and the devaluing of human life and dignity.
Liberal secular worldview:
Of course not. Some of us are women born in men’s bodies and vice versa. Gender dysphoria and transgender treatments and operations should be normalised and affirmed amongst adults and children.
Biblical Christian worldview:
No. We must show love and compassion to all facing gender dysphoria, whether or not they are Christians. However, we cannot condone sex-change operations or medical treatments as they are in opposition to the created order. Gender dysphoria should not be taught within schools as part of the curriculum, as this is effectively educating a child that they can choose their gender, which is deeply confusing at such a young age.
People, especially children, who experience gender dysphoria must be treated with the utmost of compassion and must be offered the best available counselling to help them navigate their early lives. For most of these (over 80%) this will be a phase of their development, and it will resolve itself as they grow up.
You can see that this is not only an opportunity to improve what’s being taught at the school, but also to share foundational Christian truths that may provoke further conversations about your Christian faith.
Share what’s going on
Hopefully, as you engage in these ways (which you may already have been doing), you will have a positive experience, having productive conversations with decision makers. But whether things go well or poorly, it’s important to share what’s going on.
At Christian Concern and the Christian Legal Centre, we would love to hear both good and bad examples of how these topics are being taught. We want to be able to share good stories of how schools are upholding Christian values and we want to be able to expose and challenge the schools where RSE is taught worst.
You will also want to share what’s happened with others in your local area. If you’re unsatisfied with how the school is responding, you may need to escalate matters, and a strong group of parents who understand the issues will be important going forward.
Teach it better
Finally, we mustn’t forget that all the time we’re seeking to influence things for good, children may be being taught harmful ideas. So it’s almost certainly worth taking proactive steps to teach your child in appropriate ways about relationships, preparing them for any unhelpful ideas they may come across.
Because this will be highly dependent on their age and maturity, and the material the school uses, it’s impossible to give hard and fast definitions of what this would look like.
But many schools use the book Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall – it is suggested as part of the controversial No Outsiders programme.
The book tells a story about a crayon that, though it is labelled and packaged as a red crayon, is obviously blue underneath. No matter what it is told, it can only draw the colour blue. Eventually, the crayon, its friends and its family comes to accept it’s really a blue crayon.
In the current cultural climate, the narrative very strongly resembles a child transitioning to a different gender. Just as a boy may say they’re ‘really’ a girl and be encouraged to change their name and clothing, the crayon finds freedom, love and acceptance when it realises it’s blue.
But as much as the story follows the pattern of the transgender children narrative, the details of the story do not support it. ‘Red’ the crayon really is blue – every particle evidently blue in nature. The reason for its frustration is that it’s been told it’s red (assigned redness) when, as a matter of physical reality, it is blue.
While the transgender narrative claims that a boy who thinks he’s a girl ‘really is a girl’, all observable data points to the contrary – he has male genitalia, XY chromosomes and may be starting to physically develop in accordance with his male sex. However he may be dressed up as a girl, he will never be a true girl, with real female characteristics and will never be able to bear children. In reality, the transgender child much more closely resembles the red crayon before it recognises its blueness than after it.
Speaking of genitalia and XY chromosomes is highly unlikely to be the most helpful way to explain this to a year 4 child (the target age for the lesson plan in No Outsiders). But, if your children are taught using the book, or may be exposed to its ideas, it may help to clear up the confusion caused by pointing out that ‘Red’ really is blue because of its physical reality.
There are similar weaknesses with all the books commonly used in these lessons – whether they promote same-sex parenting or transgender themes. If you think carefully about them, you may well be able to expose their problems pre-emptively.
We’ve tried to show at least six relatively simple steps any parent could take to protect children at their child’s school from some of the unhelpful content that may be used in lessons on relationships. Many more steps could be taken, which in some cases may be more radical, but we hope that these will equip you to make the small kind of influence that, nationwide, could lead to many more children being protected from the worst forms of LGBT influence, which border on indoctrination.
Please let us know how your child’s school responds as you seek to change things for the better.