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BHA signs SEF letter calling for strong sex education in national curriculum science

The British Humanist Association (BHA) is one of almost 100 organisations to have signed a letter organised by the Sex Education Forum (SEF) and published today in The Times, calling for strong teaching around sex education as part of national curriculum science in England. The call comes four days before the end of the Government’s consultation on its proposed new programmes of study. The BHA has published its draft response, which makes similar points to the letter, and has been encouraging others to respond.

The letter reads:

Sir,

We are deeply concerned that the Government's science curriculum proposals will have a negative effect on sex education for children and young people.

Children have a right to learn about their bodies, physical development and reproduction. We know that there is easy access to explicit sexual images on the internet. The National Curriculum science is the only compulsory part of sex and relationships education in schools and must teach children about how their bodies work to prepare them for growing up and to protect them from harm. However, the science proposals omit any reference to genitalia, puberty or sexual health.

We believe that these proposals will not help schools to achieve the Government's ambition to 'create an honest and open culture around sex and relationships', as set out in the new Framework for Sexual Health Improvement. It is time to put any adult squeamishness about sex aside. We urge the government to safeguard children by unambiguously including the essentials of sex education in science.

SEF are also encouraging people to contact their MP in order to make a similar call.

The BHA are a member of SEF. BHA Head of Public Affairs Pavan Dhaliwal commented, ‘We think it’s vitally important that young people receive full and comprehensive sex and relationships education, including strong education about anatomy, puberty and sexual health as part of sex education science. They need this knowledge in order to be able to make fully informed decisions when considering issues such as consent, for safeguarding purposes, and to improve their health. We hope the Government listens to this call.’

The BHA has also welcomed a briefing from the British Institute of Human Rights (BIHR), published on Tuesday, which highlights the removal of human rights from the draft citizenship curriculum, and calls for individuals to respond to the national curriculum review. The BHA has made similar points in its own response.

Notes

For further comment or information contact Pavan Dhaliwal, Head of Public Affairs at pavan@humanism.org.uk or on 0773 843 5059.

Read SEF’s letter: http://www.sexeducationforum.org.uk/policy-campaigns/letter-to-the-times-april-2013.aspx

Read BIHR’s briefing: http://www.bihr.org.uk/news/human-rights-education-in-schools-time-to-make-your-voice-heard

Respond to the national curriculum review: http://humanism.org.uk/campaigns/what-you-can-do-to-help/respond-to-the-national-curriculum-review/

Read more about the BHA’s campaigns work on PSHE and Sex and Relationships Education: http://humanism.org.uk/campaigns/schools-and-education/school-curriculum/pshe-and-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. The BHA contributes to debate on a wide range of ethical issues from stem cell research to sex education. The BHA is a member of the National Children’s Bureau Sex Education Forum (SEF) and the Children’s Rights Alliance for England.

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