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Sex Education

Volume 20: debated on Tuesday 16 March 1982

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14.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he is satisfied that there are sufficient legal safeguards to enable a parent to withdraw his child from sex education in schools if such education is contrary to that parent's philosophy.

We have made it clear that there should be the fullest consultation and co-operation between schools and parents about the way in which sex education is provided.

I thank my hon. Friend for that sensible reply. Is he aware that the sexual propaganda of organisations such as the Family Planning Association and the Brook Advisory Centres is considered by many people to be immoral and dangerous? Can parents be protected from it by having the right to take their children away from lessons if necessary?

I accept that some of the material that has gone into schools would be repulsive to everyone in the House. Indeed, we asked for some to be taken away last year, and we are asking for more to be taken away now. The right of withdrawal from the class when sex education is taking place was considered. In the 1980 Act we said that every school would have to provide information on the way that sex education was taught. This must also be discussed with parents before being put into operation.

Will the Minister reject the Neanderthal attitude of his hon. Friend? Of course it is a matter for parents. No one denies that. However, if they are not willing or able to take on that duty, does not the Minister think that there should be properly structured help from teachers, who are trained to provide this help at school? Will the Minister consider the matter carefully, because it is an urgent problem?

I do not believe that we increase parents' responsibility by taking responsibility from them. Such education is the responsibility of parents. The problem in schools is how to teach sex education as a subject that teaches the children about personal responsibility for all relationships. Also, in schools, if the discovery method is taught the children will go out and use it.