‘Can I Withdraw My Child?’: Advice on issues with Sex Education

18 August 2021

Christian Concern’s Head of Education Steve Beegoo advises parents on how best to proceed with withdrawing your child from the RSE curriculum.

Many parents in England have contacted us concerned about the RSE curriculum or other curriculum referencing sexual issues which has been provided to their children. The question is often asked, “Can I remove my child?

First of all, I want to encourage you that, as you are reading this resource, you have already taken action to protect your child by exploring what is possible. Many parents are unaware of the ideological indoctrination and sexualisation which is underway in many schools. Any concerns which you have should be raised with your school, and our article ‘How to successfully raise your voice as a parent’ should be read in conjunction with this resource.

The Lord encourages us to prioritise protection (Matt 18:6) and training of children (Deut 6:7), and to take seriously their upbringing (Eph 6:4). The area of sexuality is one which is being promoted subtly to children in some education settings and overtly in others. Vigilance, wisdom and courage is needed to firstly protect our own children, but also take a stand to support other parents who may have similar concerns to yourself.

What do I need to know?

There is much confusion amongst parents here, and the terminology is regularly being adjusted. The key points to know are as follows:

  • For the foreseeable future, apart from in Wales, you still have a right to withdraw your child from Sex Education until they are 16, but not the aspects of reproduction, which are part of the Science curriculum.
  • Sex Education is weakly defined in guidance to schools, and elements which you may feel are about intimate sexual relationships, including LGBT relationships, may be integrated into many other subjects.
  • Relationship and Sex Education (RSE), Relationships, Sex and Health Education (RSHE), or Personal, Social, Health, Economic Education (PSHE), are all titles under which Sex Education may be delivered, as well as the reproduction and body development aspects which are provided in Science.
  • Only ‘Relationships Education’, is compulsory in primary schools, but many primary headteachers are deciding to include what could be determined as Sex Education including LGBT teaching elements, as part of their Relationships Education.
  • As a parent you should have been fully consulted about any Sex Education being delivered to your child.
  • The headteacher of each school ultimately determines what is being taught, not the government or multi-academy trust. The government has given the responsibility to the school to define and implement the guidance.
  • If you determine that any education being given is covering sexual elements about intimate relationships, then as a parent you can rightly judge this as being ‘Sex Education’, even if the school does not. This means you can confidently address the school about this and activate your right to withdraw, should you wish.

Seven Common Issues When Considering a Request to Withdraw

1) ‘The primary school is talking about ‘different families’ and ‘families with two mums or two dads’ to my young children, and explaining that lesbians/gay men are females/males who ‘love’ each other and so get married, have children, etc. Is this required?

Many, if not most, schools do believe this is required and interpret the guidance this way. They will also use resources provided to them which involve explaining these relationships.

However, what a headteacher decides is ‘age appropriate’ varies widely, but many teachers are explaining such issues in ways which require sexual desire to be described as ‘love’. To young children, who should not have sexualised views of ‘love’, this is confusing or internalised. Many young boys and girls who ‘love’ and prefer their same-sex friends, are being led to believe they are lesbian or gay. Lesbian and gay are terms regarding sexual desire and intimate relationships.

Christians teach their children that God loves everyone, to love their neighbour, and so this sexualising view of love is highly problematic. Traditional Christian teaching is also that sexual intimacy is only appropriate in heterosexual marriage, and is otherwise immoral from a Christian perspective.

Many believe there is a form of grooming at work here, in causing younger children to accept and understand ‘love’ as being predominantly about sexual desire and sexual relationships. This grooming and indoctrination involves informing children that there are no moral issues regarding the same-sex nature of such a relationship. Girls are going home saying how good it would be for them to marry another girl and to form a family, due to their understanding that they currently prefer the companionship of girls; something which is, of course, common at their stage of development.

So, is this required? No. It is not required because judgements about what is age appropriate are required in the guidance. In addition, it is a requirement that education delivered by any school must be in accordance with the religious beliefs of the parents (an article 2 protocol 1 right).

2) ‘The school say they have to do this due to the requirements of their local authority, their academy trust or what the government is requiring under the Equality Act.’

The headteacher still has much autonomy over what is taught. The curriculum taught must be determined in consultation with the parents and governors of their particular school community. The school is wrong to say they ‘have to’, abrogating responsibility for content, and should be challenged if they do.

The Equality Act also requires that those with religious beliefs are fully respected and therefore Christians and Christian beliefs should be made clear to the headteacher and how you expect them to be respected in any teaching of your children, so they are not subjected to discrimination or unfair treatment.

3) ‘The school is refusing to authorise an absence for my child where I want to withdraw them from sexual education or a diversity/Pride event where sexual relationships are celebrated.’

The school can authorise absences for a variety of reasons, and can choose to enter a variety of codes into the register which is the required official record of attendance.

If they are choosing not to authorise the absence, this needs discussion with the headteacher as you could potentially expose yourself to a fine. Prior to a withdrawal, you can indicate you will educate your child at home on the issues being dealt with at school, and that you will educate from your own Christian perspective. You can request an authorised absence is given with the relevant code.

4) ‘The school is using external agencies to deliver Relationships and Sex Education, and I am unhappy about the sexualising LGBT emphasis.’

This is becoming more and more common, and especially in secondary schools. So many organisations now exist, beyond Stonewall, which promote and celebrate sexual activity, transgender ideology and LGBT relationships. Much vigilance is needed.

The government itself in its own guidance requires schools to use “extreme caution” when involving external organisations. If you use the phrase ‘safeguarding concerns’, this language is understood by schools to be serious and related to harm to children.

Schools are required to vet all external speakers carefully and to keep records of this, to protect children from harm or radicalisation. Some schools will hide behind other organisations, and these organisations may well send very ‘evangelistic’, ideologically driven speakers.

You must raise your concerns and can use our resource to help you do this.

5) ‘My younger child is being asked to use terms for sexual parts and to label these on diagrams. Is this required?’

Again, a school must determine the age appropriateness of children, sharing and discussing visual images of the private parts of boys and girls or adults, and being asked to draw or label them.

This is not something you should just accept, and many believe that this grooms children to be talking about such issues and sharing images outside of the family home at a young age.

The stirring of thinking about sexual parts, will inevitably lead immature children into increased conversations and considerations about their private parts and what they are for, leading to discussions of appropriate or inappropriate intimate relationships.

Schools often want to support parents in addressing issues surrounding puberty and what inappropriate touching by others may entail, but the consent and understanding from parents of what will be taught when, and how this is taught, can be said to be implicitly required in the guidance.

6) ‘The LGBT content seems integrated across the curriculum, from story books to LGBT role models where same-sex sexuality is positively framed. Can I withdraw them from this?’

This is very difficult for a school to comply with, especially where they accept the strong and increasingly popular state agenda in seeking to be inclusive of LGBT issues across multiple subjects and in assemblies. The request to withdraw is only understood by schools to refer to what schools see as clear sex education.

It is not understood by most schools, that giving positive teaching on what Christians would consider inappropriate sexual behaviour could be converting children away from their family’s traditional Christian beliefs on sexuality through subtle integration of these concepts and opinions across the curriculum.

Some parents have found favour in requesting that the Christian view on sexual relationships also be clearly communicated at least as positively as what are seen as more popular and ‘progressive’ views on sexuality and gender. However the ability to remove children from all positive reference to LGBT content would be very hard to achieve in most schools, especially secondary schools.

Additionally, if another child in the school is changing their pronouns and is being allowed to use the other gender’s facilities, the school is highly likely to be teaching the unproven ideological beliefs of ‘gender identity’ in order to be inclusive and to help children understand their ethos.

Withdrawal from curriculum elements, can never fully remove a child from an influencing culture and practices of a school.

7) ‘I’ve tried to communicate with the school, the teacher and the headteacher, and have read your articles and followed your guidance, but I am making no progress. What can I do?’

Many have been successful as they have prayerfully and boldly addressed these issues over an extended period. Many school staff have been supported well by Christian parents who have got involved in this key area, perhaps even by becoming governors, or pointing schools to better curriculum providers.

Do continue to pray, and even fast, for the teachers, the school leadership and how to address them.

However, these options may eventually become impossible and you may need more professional and potentially legal support in pushing back against a school. Indeed, you may be bold enough to become a part of a legal challenge, which could result in case law and ultimately protect Christians and deter discrimination against Christians by schools in the future. Christian Concern may be able to offer you free experienced legal support, should you need this.

You may need to make the courageous decision to move your child to another school, or to home educate. Many Christians and churches are being led to start new schools up and down the country, or to support each other through home education groups.

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