Carys Moseley comments on a parliamentary meeting that took place last week to discuss concerns over new Relationships and Sex Education teaching.
Last Wednesday a meeting raising concerns about some aspects of Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) in schools took place in Parliament. The meeting was hosted by the Lords and Commons Family and Child Protection Group and chaired by Sir Jeffrey Donaldson. The meeting was well-attended and featured speakers with professional backgrounds in education and safeguarding.
Importance of maintaining safeguarding
Judith Nemeth, director of The Values Foundation, opened explaining that the meeting was about safeguarding. She said that the Department for Education in England has done a great job of ensuring that people of faith can be ‘RSE-compliant.’ However, she then went on to point out that there is now a lot of evidence of irresponsible teaching of RSE in some places. One of the examples given was of guidance previously on the website of Warwickshire county council advocating teaching of ‘self-touching’ for six-year-olds.
Nemeth explained that the problem of irresponsible teaching of RSE does not simply occur in some local authorities, but that it is linked to the attitude of civil servants in the Department for Education. She gave the example that this week the Department had said that it would “protect teachers who are bullied by parents into not teaching about gender identity.”
She then went on to say that campaigners are now wanting a caution to be put on RSE materials that teach children about ‘gender identity,’ and asking for supplementary material to be provided.
Manipulation of RSE
The next speaker was Rev. Lynda Rose, the convener of the Lords and Commons Family and Child Protection Group. She started by saying that many things in the RSE regulations are good, for example, teaching children how to stay healthy and teaching online safety. She then warned that some groups are manipulating RSE regulations for their own agendas. Rose explained that there is a historical problem with sex education being partisan, for example, on the subject of Sexually Transmitted Infections, children are not being taught the whole truth. This was proffered as one example among several others of the need for teachers, parents and governors, indeed all interested parties, to critically investigate the RSE curriculum as well as studying its history and provenance.
The single biggest concern that she raised, and that was raised by most speakers, was the
promotion of gender fluidity to children from age 3 onwards. Rose was very clear that teaching this is a social experiment upon children and therefore abusive. She challenged the audience arguing that we need to decide whether our priority is child welfare or caving in to LGBT propaganda. She ended by expressing the hope that the government will amend RSE policy.
Transgender ideology as coercive control
The next speaker was Stephanie Davies-Arai from Transgender Trend, a resource for parents and children helping them to resist transgender ideology in the education system and further afield. Davies-Arai comes from a more socially liberal background than most of the other speakers, but she has done a great deal of work investigating the attempt at mainstreaming gender identity in education and was able to speak comprehensively on the problems involved. She gave some illustrations of the negative effect on children when they are taught lies and half-truths about sex and gender, often by external providers of ‘education.’ For example, she cited a resource by the Proud Trust which talks of ‘a person with a vagina’ not ‘a woman.’
Likewise, she cited a resource from the Sex Education Forum referring to ‘menstruators of all genders.’ She pointed out that if a girl does not start menstruating, this could be a sign of a medical problem. However, in the context of such gender identity ideology, such a girl could also now start classifying herself as ‘not a menstruator.’ Finally, Davies-Arai pointed out the safeguarding problem, which is that children are disempowered from understanding sex and therefore unable to report sexual abuse properly to the relevant authorities.
Davies-Arai rightly characterised the attitude behind such resources as ‘gaslighting,’ and argued that it is a form of coercive control – something that is now a criminal offence.
Queer theory driving classroom radicalism
Former BBC journalist Shelley Charlesworth spoke about her research into the ‘No Outsiders’ programme developed by Birmingham head teacher Andrew Moffatt. She found that it was academic Queer Theory (LGBT philosophy) that lies behind much of the push for radical LGBT indoctrination in schools. ‘No Outsiders’ had started life as a research project in Sunderland University, and Moffatt contributed an academic paper to it. It was all about promoting LGBT equality in primary schools.
Like the other speakers, Charlesworth highlighted the fact that these resources and their supporters consistently misinterpret the Equality Act 2010, so that the protected characteristic of gender reassignment is replaced by ‘gender identity’, which is not a legal category at all. In other words, activists are using ‘soft law’ to undermine existing statute law – a favoured tactic to intimidate white collar professionals who are ignorant of the law. Charlesworth concluded that there is in fact no legal requirement under the government’s RSE guidelines to teach children about LGBT issues in primary school. Andrew Moffatt got around this by saying that he was teaching children about ‘diversity.’
Mishandling diverse family forms
Jacqueline Cochrane, the mother of a 4-year-old girl, spoke about how her daughter came home from school persistently asking why she did not have two mums after having a lesson about same-sex parenting. Mrs Cochrane revealed that she and her husband had been branded ‘narrow-minded’ by the school for having removed their daughter from the lessons after objecting to the ‘No Outsiders’ programme. Not only that but the school had said this to other parents.
This raises the question of how this topic is handled in primary schools if that school chooses to teach on LGBT issues. Is it merely acknowledged as a fact in some people’s lives, or is it promoted as right and even superior? Here it would seem that pro-same-sex-parenting teaching can drive a wedge between children and their biological parents. Surely this is something that needs to be addressed not only by schools and local authorities, but by Ofsted too.
Historically, teachers were not to draw undue attention to a child’s home circumstances. It would be inappropriate, for example, to draw attention to the fact that some children lived in care homes or were in between fostering arrangements, or part of a kinship adoption arrangement. The LGBT movement however, and in particular Stonewall and the ‘No Outsiders’ programme, has made promoting visibility of same-sex parenting a goal. Not only that, but in some schools, children have been taught that people who conscientiously object to same-sex parenting are ‘bigots.’ The focus has gone from discreetly helping children not be subject to intrusiveness from others, to creating a climate which can confuse children and even having schools attacking and ostracising their parents. This is pure propaganda and shows that inappropriate teaching of RSE is sowing the seeds of a surveillance society.
The head teacher’s perspective
The last speaker was Ed Matyaszek, a head teacher and principal of Priory School in the Isle of Wight. He spoke at length about the problem of schools and local authorities arrogantly dismissing parents’ requests for proper consultation about RSE. He revealed that officials often exhibited cynicism towards the consultation process, treating the outcome as a ‘done deal’ and choosing deliberately to ignore parents’ concerns. In particular, he said that the religious background of parents was being deliberately neglected.
He also pointed out that with radical LGBT material, a child cannot discern its purpose but does experience the process, and that really amounts to grooming of children. The result is an increasing breakdown of trust among parents towards the government, which he hinted would become a long-term problem.
The need to monitor RSE
All of this amounts to a rather sombre picture of inappropriate teaching of RSE. It was pointed out that the Department for Education in England has recently published a list of ‘early adopter schools’: 1600 or so schools that have decided to adopt the RSE curriculum before it is officially due to be rolled out in the next academic year. Out of these, 131 are Church of England schools. It would make sense to find out what the lessons in these ‘early adopter schools’ consist of, in order to get a picture of what RSE is like.
When asked how can the teaching of RSE be monitored appropriately, the answer from the panel was that they wanted the Department for Education to issue guidance that would allow parents to speak to them, and for the Department to talk to schools if they are going against the law on RSE. Whilst this sounds reasonable and respectable enough, as it encourages citizens to call on government to fulfil its role properly, one can’t help but think that this issue won’t be resolved any time soon. For what is really at issue here is the cultural revolution within the Department for Education and its equivalents in Scotland and Wales. For ultimately the problems raised in the meeting are a sign of the deliberate hostility to human dignity and bodily integrity central to western civilization, in the very heart of Whitehall. To confront that we need to consider much more deeply the changes that have happened in the field of education.
Practically speaking, as Christian Concern Communications Officer Rebekah Moffett has previously argued, parents can do five things to oppose the new RSE: write to MPs (the more the better, as MPs would be more likely to debate the issues in Parliament), organise meetings for parents to raise awareness, write to their child’s headteacher setting out the concerns (again, the more parents that do this, the better), withdraw children from primary school RSE, and, most radical of all, move children to another school or home school them – or even start a new school. Politicians and teachers need to get a clear, uncompromising message from parents that they will not tolerate their children being indoctrinated by inappropriate RSE lessons.