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Campaigners make final appeal as government sex education consultation closes

Children as young as four will be given ‘relationships education’ under the Government’s plans (Getty)

Pro-life and Christian campaigners have made a final appeal for responses to a government consultation on sex education.

The government is considering whether to make “relationships education” compulsory from the age of four. While the Department for Education insists that this would be distinct from “sex education”, no clear guidelines have been laid down. The consultation closes at 11.45pm tonight.

Currently sex education is only compulsory as part of biology lessons in local-authority-run schools. Faith schools and free schools do not have to provide it.

Antonia Tully of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children argued that “several decades of values-free, explicit sex education in schools, where parents have been side-lined and undermined”, had led to children being harmed by early sexual experience. Tully urged parents and others to respond to the consultation.

SPUC’s briefing notes say that, under the government’s plans, “Very young children will be told that two men or two women in a relationship or marriage is as valid and natural as a man and a woman. The promotion of same-sex relationships opens up the scope to introduce gender issues, with children encouraged to question their gender and the very idea of there being two distinct sexes.”

The Catholic MP Sir Edward Leigh has tabled an amendment for parents to be given an opt-out for their children.

The Evangelical Alliance also drew attention to the consultation, saying: “Our country is also incredibly diverse in background and viewpoint. This means that there are major differences around what constitutes healthy relationships, and the age-appropriateness of teaching about sexual activity and sexual orientation.”

Last year, Anne Scanlan of Life Charity said: “If schools are engaged in the delivery of explicit and inappropriate content in the classroom, it should be the absolute right of parents to withdraw their children from such corruptive sessions. We have heard of calls to teach masturbation to four year olds as part of sex education and leaflets telling primary school children that it is up to them to decide when to have sex.”