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Fifty Years of Sex Education: Why are we here?

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Gill Robins of Christians in Education says that we are in a "cultural and ideological war that aims to sexualise children and wrest from parents their inalienable right to decide how best their children should be raised." She comments on why we are in this situation, highlighting influences such as cultural marxism, identity politics and the Equality Act 2010. 


Human beings are sexual beings – it's the way God designed us. And almost everyone would agree that on the path to adulthood, children and young people should be told about sex. But what should they be told? At what age? And by whom? No conversation about sex is ever value free, so should the education service play a role in sex education? If so, by what values should any curriculum be underpinned? Fifty years on from the decriminalisation of homosexual practice, we are in the midst of a cultural and ideological war that aims to sexualise children and wrest from parents their inalienable right to decide how best their children should be raised. Why are we here?


Cultural Marxism

Despite the failure of political Marxism, cultural Marxism is thriving through its influence on social policy. The liberal ideology that currently dominates Western culture derives from the Institute of Social Research, which came to be known as the Frankfurt School. Set up by a group of Marxist intellectuals in Germany in 1923, its members wanted to explore the potential philosophical and social power of their beliefs. Their plan was to destabilise society through the destruction of religion; the breakdown of the family; explicit teaching of sex and homosexuality to children; removal of the rights of parents as the primary educator; the definition of women as being oppressed by men, and mass immigration. Their clear focus in attempting to remodel cultural values was on family, education, sex and the manipulation of media. Dismissed at the time as impossible to achieve, its advocates could hardly have imagined how successfully their objectives would be achieved in a digital age and a liberal society.


Individualism, identity politics and social activism

The latter part of the twentieth century saw a sea change in the social narrative. Individualism, which says that personal needs are paramount, took hold. Choosing between good and bad gave way to the freedom to nurture personal desire. Advertisers have exploited this to their advantage, but to the detriment of children who are becoming sexualised at an ever-earlier age.

Identity politics started to dominate political campaigning, and activism formed part of the cultural fabric of society. Based on the concept of equality, identity groups became politically active on issues of race, disability, women's rights and sexual and gender based equality. Stonewall became not only one of the loudest and most persistent voices, but also the one most listened to by government. And so today, the Equalities and Human Rights Commission is headed up by a former chairman of Stonewall and Ofsted's Director of Corporate Strategy is Stonewall's former Head of Education.


British values and the Equality Act

The current situation evolved in a far from simple way. 2007 saw the emergence of British values in response to the Trojan Horse debacle, although the concept itself was nothing new, merely a redesigned version of the Blair administration's community cohesion concept. But coupled with the Equality Act in 2010, it took on a whole new significance. Hiding behind an ill-defined, constantly shifting British values smokescreen, the LGBT lobby manoeuvred its cause to centre stage. For the first time in British history, the law was no longer about protection of person and property, but about protection of characteristics. And that has inevitably led not only to conflict between protected characteristics. Ofsted recently created a hierarchy when it failed an Orthodox Jewish school inspection solely on the grounds of the school's failure to teach gender reassignment and sexual orientation to its 3-8 year olds. Freedom of religion is, by definition, limited by state imposed freedom of sexual expression.


Preventing and exploring

The history of sex education over the last century in this country demonstrates the extent to which schools are seen as a means of educating the population about the risks of sexual behaviour, from teenage pregnancy in the 70s to HIV/AIDS in the 80s. Today's society has to address new issues: sexting, revenge porn and pornography as a result of uncontrolled internet access; domestic violence as a result of the breakdown of the family, and child sexual abuse and grooming as a result of the failure of public services to protect children in a sexually promiscuous society. Arguably, if previous precedent is followed, schools are the place where these issues will be addressed. The proposed curriculum content, aimed at preventing sexual crime, reads like self-defence training. But perhaps, having created it, this is society's mess to clear up. What sort of society chooses to abandon its children to such education programmes so that its adults can continue to indulge personal desire?

Alongside the issue of prevention lies the new concept of teaching children about sexual pleasure, explored within any chosen gender or none. Despite research which demonstrates that teenagers lack the ability to accurately judge the speed of an oncoming vehicle until the age of 14, the government intends to teach young children about the issue of sexual consent, so that pleasure can be pursued without anyone getting hurt. This is not about appropriate sexual behaviour within a moral framework, but responsible sexual behaviour that simply promotes personal autonomy whilst protecting against abuse or infection.

This, the argument goes, is a truly value free form of sex education. From 2018, it will be compulsory in all schools, regardless of the views of parents or the faith tenets of the school. It looks likely that it will be imposed on home educators too. In 2016, when ruling against the Scottish Named Person scheme, the judgment stated, on the right to a private and family life under article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights: "The first thing that a totalitarian regime tries to do is to get to the children, to distance them from the subversive, varied influences of their families, and indoctrinate them in their rulers' view of the world. Within limits, families must be left to bring up their children in their own way." But yet again, a government seeks to impose totalitarian control, removing from parents to right to teach their children about sex at a time, in a way and within a moral framework that they choose.

Gill Robins, Christians in Education 


Related Links: 
Fifty years of Sex Education: Where are we and how did we get here?
Fifty years of word games | Jonathan Saunders



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