Christian Concern’s communications officer, Rebekah Moffett, comments on why the cancellation of The Family Sex Show is good news.
An inappropriate sex education show aimed at children aged five and up has been cancelled following widespread criticism.
The Family Sex Show (warning: their website does contain graphic and sexually explicit terms and descriptions) was due to be performed in Bath, Bristol and Norwich this Spring, promising to “spark children’s curiosity about sex” for children as young as five.
However, widespread criticism – including a petition from CitizenGO, which now has nearly 40,000 signatures – has led to the public performances being reluctantly cancelled by the venues.
But how did this show ever get booked in theatres in the first place?
Adult nudity for five-year-olds?
The show itself was to feature eight actors exploring themes such as consent, pleasure and ‘queerness’, and was billed as a “fun and silly performance” about sex. Its own website describes it as “Pixar meets Sesame Street meets Flight of the Conchords,” and one audience member apparently said “anybody of any age can watch this. It’s so accessible.”
But is sexualised content ever actually appropriate for both five-year-olds and adults?
In reality, even a quick glance over their website is enough to fill anyone with concern – although since the show was cancelled, certain areas of the website have been edited, redacted and taken down.
The show itself was due to feature full-frontal nudity of adults in front of young children. A quick look over their FAQ gives an idea of what audience members were in for:
“At one point in the show, everyone on stage takes their clothes off to the level they feel comfortable to. For some people, that’s taking off all of their clothes and being completely naked. For other people, that means taking off bottoms but leaving underwear on, for others it’s not taking anything off at all. This moment lasts approximately 5 minutes.”
In the same FAQ, the creators of the show make clear that it’s aimed at children aged five and up. The reasoning they give for this?
“Sexual development and behaviour in children starts from birth. It’s important that children are supported in their exploratory development, safely and comfortably.”
And when addressing whether theatre is really the best place to do this, they say:
“We think theatre is a place to be curious, and to ask questions. … We don’t think there is any reason that theatre shouldn’t be the right place for this.
“Some of the conversations around sex, identity politics, and pleasure are being addressed in the mainstream. They are more readily available in our homes through programmes like Netflix’s ‘Sex Education’, or Geodele Liekens ‘Sex in Class’ on Channel 4. There is something in the power of familiarity. The more we see / hear / experience these conversations and understand and know people who are different from ourselves, the more likely we are to have empathy.”
Except for the fact that that’s obviously not true.
For starters, the shows they mention are all aimed at people older than five-years-old. But it’s also a complete untruth that the more we are exposed to sexual themes, the more empathetic we become.
Take Elisha Kolade as an example. In our Pure talks, Elisha Kolade tells his story of first being exposed to pornography aged 12. He became a regular user of porn from age 13, eventually leading to an addiction that damaged his cognitive ability and led him to suicidal thoughts. The younger that children are exposed to this sort of material – whether on screen or in the theatre – the more dangerous it is.
Encouraging children to ‘explore themselves’
Other parts of the website encourage young children to explore themselves sexually. For example, one page on ‘Loving Ourselves’, encourages children to draw their favourite parts of their body, then asks, “Is there a body part which feels especially nice to the touch for you?” This question is followed by, “If some of your pleasures are sexual, are there any sexual practices you might like to try?”
Similarly, themes such as masturbation are covered in great detail, with young children being encouraged to search for some very inappropriate images on the internet. (Although interestingly, this section has now been redacted.)
Surely this is an awful idea!
In fact, schools have had to apologise and withdraw similar materials before: a school in Hull issued an apology after asking students to research different types of pornography; and Warwickshire County Council ended up withdrawing its RSE programme, which included material encouraging pupils aged 6 to ‘self-stimulate’.
I have also previously warned against the idea of pornography being ‘play’. But once again, explicit sexual themes are being sold as something that is light-hearted and fun, whilst the short and long-term damage of this sort of content, as well as the costs of society’s misuse of sex, are completely ignored.
The show’s website features a whole host of stickers asking questions that are presumably answered within the show and stating sexual themes, for example, “How can 2 people with the same parts have sex?”, “you are what you say you are” and “genitals don’t define gender.”
The website also includes a glossary of the terminology used in the production. It’s certainly a lesson in sexualisation, but utterly inappropriate language for five-year-olds (and arguably completely inappropriate language for most people).
The website proudly states that the glossary –
“has been created with School of Sexuality Education. Parts of this glossary is based on Sex Ed: An Inclusive Guide, Mermaids UK, Purple Rain Collective, and Stonewall.”
Which should give at least a clue as to what sort of words might make it onto the list, and what the definitions might be. Without getting into the more ‘fruity’ definitions, five-year-olds will be treated to words and terms such as ‘BDSM’, ‘dildo’, ‘orgasm’ and ‘oral sex’. In what world do five-year-olds need to know about any of that?
That isn’t empathetic; it’s careening them down a dangerous path, opening up the way to harm and abuse.
Similarly, the show features songs about explicit themes. The Guardian (unsurprisingly) hails the show as a ‘joy’, joking about singing “a song about the clitoris!” In fact, in an interview with the creator of the show, she argues that children aren’t anxious about the show, rather “it’s the older people who feel discomfort in something that’s challenging their preconceptions.”
But of course children aren’t worried – at aged five they aren’t thinking about sex or sexual themes. And of course it’s the adults that should be concerned – it’s our job to protect our children.
As the writer of an article in The Critic writes:
“It could create the possibility of a child saying, ‘I don’t know what a clitoris is’ and an adult responding, ‘Let me show you.’ It is creating a gap, nay, a canyon, for predators to enter. There is no sexualised content that is appropriate for both five-year-olds and adults — it is one or the other.”
The show also promises to explore themes of sexuality. The website lays out:
“Sexuality is about who you might fancy and not fancy. You could fancy people of a different gender, the same gender, people who don’t identify with a gender, or fancy nobody at all!”
It also dedicates a whole page to ‘knowing your pronouns’, and includes links to resources from The Trevor Project (an American LGBT suicide prevention campaign group) and a link to The Gender Unicorn.
But in truth, none of this so-called ‘education’ is actually based in science. As our Head of Education Steve Beegoo has previously written on resources like these, “[they] are promoting an ideology about personal identity. This belief system is unscientific – it is not evidence-based – and is in direct opposition to the major religious faiths’ perspectives on identity.”
In fact, schools aren’t allowed to promote any material in relationships and sex education which might promote a particular ideology, such as transgenderism. The trouble is, a show like this can get around that barrier by arguing that it isn’t for schools. It argues:
“There are a few difficulties with making The Family Sex Show a schools performance. Aside from making it in a completely different way, and probably following a government syllabus of some kind (and so not giving anything new to what is already taught in most schools), part of the reason is that a lot of the time schools (and their teachers) don’t feel equipped to teach this topic. If a young person came to see the show with their school and didn’t fully understand something, or wanted to know more about something, they might not have anyone to ask or talk to.”
This should be warning enough – that the show aims to ‘explore’ different themes than what is being taught in schools already. The RSE syllabus is already problematic enough without adding anything further to it that could teach our children harmful content.
‘Violent and illegal threats’?
News of the show’s cancellation is, of course, to be welcomed. This is not an appropriate show for children to be watching.
ThisEgg, which runs The Family Sex Show, issued this statement on Twitter about the cancellation:
“The decision has been made by venues to cancel the tour of The Family Sex Show this Spring 2022. There will be performances for an invited audience at The Egg, Theatre Royal Bath ahead of subsequent public performances in the future.
“… It is regrettable that violent and illegal threats and abuse directed at the company and venues by a small group of people with extremist views has prevented families from opting to attend something that was transparent, consensual and legal.”
Yet no evidence has been produced of these apparent threats – or ‘extremist views’ for that matter.
What does exist, however, are comments on MumsNet and the Daily Mail calling out the obvious safeguarding issues with a show such as this and pointing out the clear dangers about “grooming” children in this way. Similarly, a petition has garnered over 39,000 signatures calling for the show to be scrapped because:
“This is nothing more than a blatant and extremely concerning attempt to sexualise children prematurely and is abusive. The show aims to break down children’s natural boundaries and expose them to content they are not sufficiently mature enough to handle. There is no difference between taking children to the Family Sex Show and taking them to a seedy peep show or strip club! It raises precisely the same safeguarding concerns. Children who exhibit precocious sexual knowledge are at increased risk of sexual abuse and vulnerable to sexual predators.”
The Stonewall link
More shocking still is the coverage of the cancellation of the Family Sex Show. The BBC’s coverage appears extremely biased, giving no voice or quote from anyone who called for the show’s cancellation (other than a screenshot of a tweet), instead latching onto the claim that the company experienced “threats and abuse.”
Although perhaps this shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. After all, The Family Sex Show was designed with the School for Sexuality Education, which was co-founded by a BBC journalist and highly endorses Stonewall teaching.
Sadly the Stonewall connection doesn’t end there.
The show is funded by the Arts Council England, which is a member of Stonewall’s ‘Diversity Champions’ programme. In fact, the Arts Council is, in part, funded by taxpayer money (as well as National Lottery money).
Perhaps we should be more concerned by how public funds are being used to promote harmful ideology to children?
The Church must wake up
We should also give thanks that parents appear to be waking up to the fact that children are seen as legitimate targets of explicit sexual material and supposed ‘sexual liberation’.
But the Church has been seemingly silent on the subject.
As uncomfortable as it may make us feel, the Church needs to be countering this ideology – not by buying into the idea of teaching young children about explicit themes, but by dealing with the underlying issues that leave people (and especially young people) vulnerable to abuse, identity issues, sexual sin and addictions…
Families should also be encouraged to deal with these issues – again, by speaking age-appropriately, but positively about sex within marriage, being created in the image of God, etc.
It is true that children are looking for affirmation; but we must be very careful in what we affirm them in. Exposing young children to sexual themes at an early age leaves the door wide open to abuse, future addiction, confusion, and a whole host of problems. Instead, with love and care, Christian parents and churches should be willing to answer children’s questions, but point them in the direction of a Creator who is life, truth, freedom.
The lie of this culture is that sexual freedom is freedom. But true and lasting freedom isn’t found in sex or sexuality. It’s found in the Creator who created sex for a purpose and gave us the right boundaries to enjoy it in. And let’s be clear: that isn’t for five-year-olds.