In an effort to pass new education legislation, the British Parliament has removed a reform that would have denied both parents and religious schools of their rights. This comes as welcomed news after the House of Commons passed the bill with this dangerous reform last month.
The reform removed would have denied parental rights by requiring all students over the age of 15 to attend at least one year of sex education provided by the public school system. The legislation denied parents the right to pull the student out of the course under any circumstances.
Under the banner of mandatory sex education, religious schools would have been required to teach this state mandated sex education curriculum. Schools would have been able to present the information within their religious views but would have been required to teach about abortion, contraception, and homosexual behavior, whether or not they were opposed.
Conservative groups concerned about the violation of parental and religious rights inherent in the legislation were relieved when the reform was removed. Others, however, were less pleased.
Various organizations have responded vehemently to the removal, arguing that allowing parents and religious institutions to maintain their rights has destroyed the future of sexual education in Britain.
Lisa Power, policy director of the Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “We will see the impact on young people who haven’t had decent sex and relationships education: the girl who gets pregnant because the only education she got was in the playground, the people who use the word ‘gay’ as an insult. It’s a disgraceful betrayal of the next generation. There’s been very widespread agreement that young people need better sex and relationships education.”
Andrew Copson, chief executive of the British Humanist Association, added to the stream of criticism: “There was massive support for its implementation from health professionals, teachers, parents and young people themselves. The loss of these subjects as core parts of the curriculum is catastrophic.”
It is very clear from the language of Power, Copson, and others that parents are no longer considered able or obligated to provide the sex and relationship education that is so needed. Nor are they considered qualified to decide what that education should be.
Their comments, then, lead one to ask, when did parents become obsolete? When did parents lose their rights to the opinions of health professionals and teachers? When was the responsibility of a parent in raising a child turned over to the state?