Al-arab In UK | Relationships and Sex Education, is it for your...

1445 شعبان 13 | 23 فبراير 2024

Relationships and Sex Education, is it for your precious children?

Relationships and Sex Education, is it for your children?
Zainab Kamal 30 June 2023

Teaching sex education had been existent since the 1970s in schools as part of science, and later developed to address issues that had become prevalent in British society.

I was in year 6 when I first sat through a lesson about sex education. The lesson was nothing special, it was all matter of fact, and so we learnt about the reproductive system, contraception, puberty, and hygiene. Boys and girls were split into two different groups, and it was all done in one single lesson.

Sex Education.. Is it for your precious children?

Sex education
The effect of sex education on our children


In 2020 an extended version of the curriculum was laid out to schools and labelled the RSE (Relationships and Sex Education) framework in which included two parts, the Health and Sex Education on the one hand, and the Relationships education on the other.

Moreover, it was extended further to younger pupils in education; as young as 3 years old in early years. However, you as a parent wouldn’t have much knowledge of what topics are addressed in these lessons due to many factors. Amongst of which, schools in the UK are given frameworks for each key stage and essentially a checklist for pupils learning targets. What approaches to teaching schools choose to reach those learning targets, is decided within the school itself.

Secondly, depending on the council or academy trust that the school is a part of, there may or may not be transparency in procedures with the parents. Therefore, as a parent you may or may not be called in to attend a school meeting regarding procedures to do with RSE or approaches to implementation at your child’s school.

This has caused a lot of confusion and concern with parents, especially upon realising that this new curriculum addresses topics that is very much sensitive to people of different ethnicities or religious backgrounds and is certainly not considered age appropriate for pupils.

Notwithstanding that the ‘relationship’ part of the curriculum was made statuary and parents were only given a choice to withdraw their children from the ‘health and sex education’ part of the curriculum.

I strongly recommend that parents read through the RSE framework on the website so that they are familiar with the guidance (pupils should learn) and statuary (pupils must learn) topics that their children would be taught at schools.

Your right to choose

Schools in UK
Sex education in UK schools

Diversity and inclusion is one of the core values of British culture.
This includes people of ethnicity who are active members of society, we integrate on many levels from schools to the workplace, from contributing to the economy to bringing our culture into our British identity.  

When an Act is passed in parliament, you and I are allowed to express our opinions on it as it is within our democratic right to condemn or praise. It seems only natural to differ in opinion based on personal experiences and beliefs.

While the RSE framework sets out to highlight the statuary requirements to schools, it does give leeway to consider schools and children of religious background as mentioned in the 19-22 articles of the framework.

Many parents would rather withdraw their children from the ‘relationship’ part of the curriculum due to its strong promotion of LGBTQ notions that go greatly against their beliefs, whereas there is wider acceptance of the ‘health and sex education’ part of the curriculum given it’s addressed at an appropriate age.

Due to public pressure, Prime Minister Rushi Sunak has expressed his concern over the contents of the RSE framework and has asked the DfE to urgently review topics taught as reported by The Telegraph and Tes Magazine earlier in March 2023, he stated that we must protect our ‘precious’ children.

For this reason, I strongly advice parents to be more politically active and aware as parliamentary laws are always subject to change. Write to your local MP, vote in your council elections, and always stay in communication with your child’s school.

Respect but don’t conform

Sex education
Parents withdraw their children from sex education classes

The difference between acceptance and respect is where diversity lies. Denying a notion or belief doesn’t not vilify the opposing opinion, it rather emphasises the idea of diversity especially one that should lead to inclusion in an ideal world.

If someone doesn’t not agree with the concept of the Hijab, I cannot ask them to accept it for themselves or deny their opinion even, but rather just respect our differences in order to implement diversity and equality.

Tolerance is in fact essential in multicultural diverse societies where not everyone agrees on beliefs and ideas, but it is detrimental to a society’s smooth progression in education and the workplace. Acceptance as a notion to Muslims means to agree and implement, this is wholly against beliefs and scripture therefore we cannot recognise or accept the practices and ideas of LGBTQ communities.

This however does not mean we hold contempt for them of treat them with disrespect, as the Quran reiterates “To you your religion, and to me my religion.”

We must also acknowledge the double standards of rights of freedoms too. As multicultural communities we need to highlight that freedoms cannot be granted to certain groups over others.

If having people claim different identities, use different pronouns, or uproot their existence according to their feelings is considered freedoms, then it should be valid that true equality is to be practiced and we be allowed as Muslims to decide if and when our children are exposed to the topics that are becoming mainstream in our societies through RSE frameworks.

We should be allowed as much any other groups of people to practice their beliefs within education or work. As we reject the concept of LGBTQ, it’s within our freedoms that it’s not enforced upon us, indoctrinated to our children or that we should be asked to conform.

Children and their families should not be demonised for opting out of the RSE curriculum, it’s their prerogative.

Read more:

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