In the new Relationships, Sex and Health Education (RSHE) Guidance issued on 24th September, the Department for Education (DfE) has now said that all expression of partisan political views is prohibited. It has further stated that this doesn’t just include what it calls ‘party politics’, but that schools must consider the broad range of issues on which there could be political views – which may include global affairs, equalities issues, religion and economics. In line with the Independent Schools Standard Regulations, they state there must be balanced representation of opposing views (https://www.gov.uk/guidance/teaching-about-relationships-sex-and-health ).
Further, they have repeated that in planning the curriculum, schools must engage with parents and carers and, mindful of the Human Rights Act 1998, they must respect the right of parents to have children educated in line with their religious and/or philosophical beliefs.
On the face of it, this is good news. At the same time, however – in what appears an almost schizophrenic attempt to continue the imposition of LGBT values – in the accompanying Guidance, Plan your relationships, sex and health curriculum (https://www.gov.uk/guidance/plan-your-relationships-sex-and-health-curriculum), the DfE states, “All pupils should receive teaching on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) relationships during their school years. Secondary schools should include LGBT content in their teaching. Primary schools are strongly encouraged, and enabled, when teaching about different types of family, to include families with same sex parents.”
Let us be clear, the latter ‘encouragement’ is not mandatory, and parents can therefore complain if their child’s school pushes ahead with teaching about same sex families, on the specious grounds that they are complying with equality law. The point does need to be made, however, that whatever the pretended support for fairness and objectivity, it is clear that the underlying intention remains to transform society by promoting and normalising LGBT values and behaviours.
In fact, sad to say, the new Guidance appears to be no more than a direct response to the application made for Judicial Review of the RSE Regulations, launched by the Let Kids Be Kids Coalition, of which VfJUK is a part – a pre-emptive strike to try and deflect valid criticism while ensuring that activists achieve their aim of normalising and embedding LGBTQI+ values in society. But you can’t have it both ways. The DfE has explicitly stated that schools must respect the right of parents to have children educated in line with their religious views – which means that children from a religious background, while taught that society endorses same sex relationships and same sex marriage, must equally be taught that this contravenes the teachings of their faith, and why. And it’s laid down in black and white that schools are required to give a balanced representation of opposing views – which surely means that teachers are required at the very least to acknowledge, without critical comment, the fact that the Bible classifies all sex outside marriage and same sex relations – which it calls sodomy – as sin, which is rebellion against God and undermines the fabric of society.
But there is more that is also potentially positive – if enforced! The Guidance further states that under no circumstances should schools work with or employ external agencies that take or promote extreme positions, or that demonstrate political partiality. In one fell swoop, therefore, this rules out use of materials from groups such as Stonewall or Mermaids – both self-avowedly campaigning politically for LGBT rights and ‘inclusivity’. This indeed is the reason both groups have developed educational materials (https://www.stonewall.org.uk; https://mermaidsuk.org.uk). The Guidance states, “Schools should not under any circumstances work with external agencies that take or promote extreme positions or use materials produced by such agencies.” This covers of course not just resources for use in class settings, but includes the requirement that such organisations should not provide training courses for teachers, as an aid to the delivery and promotion of controversial and disputed values.
In sum, while the new Guidance is to be cautiously welcomed as acknowledgment of the parental right, enshrined in International and UK law, to have children educated in line with their religious belief and/or values, there remains much to be done in order to ensure that such assurance is not merely a duplicitous manoeuvre designed to deflect and stave off criticism … while the real agenda pushes forward unabated.