The facts of the case are simple. Parents were concerned that sex education being given to their children in local schools had no regard to their faith background and was age inappropriate, introducing children to sexualising concepts that some found distressing. It was reported, for example, that one child aged 11 was traumatised following an explicit lesson on sexual intercourse and arousal in a PSHE (Personal, social, health and economic education) lesson, which had been given with no prior warning to parents. Parents also complained that when they had asked to look at the content and materials to be used in such lessons, they had been refused.
The law in this area is actually very clear. The 2021 Statutory Guidance for RSHE explicitly says that parents should be given every opportunity to understand the purpose and content of Relationships and Sex Education, and to see the resources and materials that will be used. It states, “All schools should work closely with parents when planning and delivering these subjects. Schools should ensure that parents know what will be taught and when, and clearly communicate the fact that parents have the right to request that their child be withdrawn from some or all of sex education delivered as part of statutory RSE.” It further states that schools must have regard to the faith background of pupils, and that schools must comply with the Equality Act 2010, under which religion or belief are clearly set down as protected characteristics (https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/ file/1090195/Relationships_Education_RSE_and_Health_Education.pdf).
So distressed were the parents at being, as they saw it, ignored and their concerns dismissed, that they formed themselves into an action group, calling for safe RSE in Redbridge. They acquired a website (https://parentsunited.org.uk), started writing letters, and even held a conference, drawing together concerned parents to look at the problems in more detail and decide on an action plan.
The National Secular Society (NSS) also waded into the fray. In a similarly vitriolic article, NSS campaigns officer Jack Rivington said: “Although Parents United like to portray themselves as nothing more than a group of concerned parents, the reality is that it has platformed religious fundamentalists and Islamists with a wider political agenda, whilst also promoting harmful homophobic views … Politicians, schools, and the media should bear this context in mind and treat Parents United with according scepticism.”
After which, with what appears mind-boggling hypocrisy, the article continued, “It is important that all children receive age-appropriate and inclusive sex and relationships education, for their own well-being and their interactions with wider UK society. The religious beliefs of parents should never be privileged over the teaching of accurate science and acceptance of all people regardless of sexual orientation.” (https://www.secularism.org.uk/news/2023/02/gay-children-should-repent-muslim-parents-told-at-conference).
Accurate science? Really? I think we’d all go along with that one – especially the concerned parents in Redbridge. But the one thing activists don’t appear familiar with is accurate science!
The truly appalling thing in all of this is that the legitimate fears of parents for their children are not just being ignored, but traduced – and all for the political gain of activists promoting an ideology that really does fly in the face of science. Whose primary object, indeed, is the normalisation and promotion of life-style choices and behaviours that only a few years ago were labelled deviant. And, it is apparently for this that the worries of the parents are not just being ignored, but suppressed – by demonising them as Islamist extremists, intent on violently attacking and bringing down British culture.
Sad to say, there seems indeed to be a pattern here, because Christian parents expressing similar concerns have also found themselves vilified – branded fundamentalist, homophobic bigots, intent on peddling religious hatred and abuse.
This is not acceptable.
Please write to your MP today, protesting the ideological indoctrination increasingly evident in education, and calling for greater protection of children from premature sexualisation, and the normalisation of sexual practices that put them at clearly evidenced medical risk of harm. Make the point that parents are the primary educators of their children and have the right to have them educated in line with their own religious or philosophical beliefs, as laid down under law. Point out that current policy, as being interpreted and applied by many schools, is not observing this requirement and has become a tool for exploitation by activists. Call for such abuse to end, and for the rights of parents to be upheld.
Rev Lynda Rose
Rev Lynda Rose is founder of Voice for Justice UK, a group which works to uphold the moral values of the Bible in society.