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BHA: Nadine Dorries' abstinence education bill withdrawn, but 'faith' schools can still teach pupils how to 'cure gays'

Nadine Dorries MP has withdrawn her Sex Education (Required Content) Bill, which sought to secure abstinence education for girls only, according to the Guardian. However, this good news comes amid reports that JFS – a state-maintained Jewish school in London – has taught pupils how to ‘cure gays’.

The British Humanist Association (BHA) has welcomed the withdrawal of the Bill, but emphasised that the JFS incident shows the current inadequacy of Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) in state schools, and the urgent need for a comprehensive, statutory SRE curriculum.

Commenting on today’s events in parliament, BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson said, ‘If the Bill had been debated, it would not have been passed, and there was always a good chance that there would not be enough parliamentary time for it even to be debated. It would be nice to think that Mrs Dorries withdrew her Bill because she at last realised that abstinence "education" is a dangerously unrealistic and irresponsible proposition for our young people; in the more probable eventuality that her decision was guided by politics rather than a change of heart, we will all certainly need to remain on our guard against such foolish proposals in the future.

‘The fact that the Bill ever got tabled for a second reading at all has given all those who care about good quality, comprehensive sex and relationships education to say so, and take a stand against the sort of unevidenced ideologically motivated policy making that the Bill represented.'

Commenting on the JFS incident, Mr Copson continued, ‘This highlights once again how inadequate SRE is as things stand. There is very little that schools are required to teach on SRE, and even without Ms Dorries’ bill, they can still choose to teach abstinence, or that homosexuality is a sin, or as in this case, that being gay is a curable disease. There is an urgent need for a comprehensive, high quality, statutory SRE curriculum that should be taught in all schools, including Academies, Free Schools and “faith” schools.’

Notes
For further comment or information, please contact Andrew Copson on 07855 380 633.

The BHA supported a demonstration against Nadine Dorries’ Bill, which occurred outside parliament this morning. Read the joint press release, Just say no to Nadine Dorries' abstinence education bill!, 11 January 2012: http://www.humanism.org.uk/news/view/962

Read BHA Faith Schools Campaigner Richy Thompson’s speech at the protest: http://www.humanism.org.uk/news/view/969

The BHA briefed MPs ahead of the scheduled debate. Read the BHA BRIEFING: Nadine Dorries MP’s Abstinence Education for Girls Bill: http://www.humanism.org.uk/_uploads/documents/1bha-briefing-2012-dorries-abstinence-bill-final.pdf

Read the Jewish Chronicle report, Jewish school pupils taught how to ‘cure gays’, 19 January 2012: http://www.thejc.com/news/uk-news/62272/jewish-school-pupils-taught-how-cure-gays

The JFS has claimed (http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2012/01/19/state-funded-jewish-school-denies-it-taught-students-to-cure-gays/) that they did not promote JONAH – Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing – but the group were certainly presented to students, and this conflicts with reports from pupils who attended the lesson in question.

Read more about the BHA’s work on Sex and Relationships Education: http://www.humanism.org.uk/campaigns/religion-and-schools/sex-and-relationships-education

The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. It promotes a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief.

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