Naomi Phillips, head of public affairs at the British Humanist Association (BHA), commented on Nadine Dorries' abstinence bill:
"There is no good evidence to support the substance of this bill: abstinence education does not work. Not only is this bill misguided, it focuses only on girls and negates and overlooks the important role of boys and young men in forming safe, fulfilling and consensual sexual relationships.
"All children and young people have a right to high quality, comprehensive and objective SRE in all schools, including 'faith' schools, which would and should equip young people - both boys and girls - with the information and skills to say no to sexual activity if that is what they choose. High quality PSHE and SRE is what we would like to see more of our elected representatives working towards, rather than voting in favour of measures which seek to teach biased perspectives to girls in schools.
"While it is undoubtedly disheartening that MPs have voted through the first stage of this bill, it is unlikely to progress any further than its second reading stage next year. What this unfortunate bill and vote illustrates however, is the influence of a growing lobby with vested interests in promoting and imposing a narrow, unshared and potentially damaging perspective regarding sex, sexual health and abortion rights.
"It is ever-more important for those, both in and outside of parliament, who are committed to promoting children and young people's rights to high quality SRE in all schools, including in 'faith' schools, to work together to ensure that it becomes a reality."