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Education – Council wades into sex education row

April 2018

Barnet Council has unanimously backed a motion calling for tolerance to be shown to people of faith, allowing faith schools to teach sex education in accordance with their religious ethos.

Earlier this year, the government concluded a call for evidence on the new primary school Relationships Education subject, and on secondary school Relationships and Sex Education.

Many responses, not just Christians, called on the government to spend more time committing resources to better life skills, such as financial education, rather than compulsory sex education. However, the government’s response to the consultation has not been published as at the time of writing.

Barnet, which has a high proportion of Muslims, has reacted against the government’s heavy-handed attempts to impose sex education on children, regardless of people’s religious beliefs.

Counsellor Brian Gordon, who put forward the motion, said: ‘In the same way children should be taught not to harbour prejudice and hatred and violent desires towards others, tolerance and understanding has to be shown towards people’s religions and their values.

‘It is wrong, and I would say counter-productive, for faith schools to be penalised or marked down for failure to teach particular aspects of sex and sexuality that are counter to their religious ethos’.

Ciarán Kelly, deputy director of the Christian Institute, said: ‘It’s a welcome intervention, but the scope of government proposals is not limited to faith schools or even to sex-ed. Relationships education will apply to all primary schools in England.

‘Children as young as four will be taught about “different types of relationships”, which could include homosexuality, transsexualism and same-sex marriage. But the government has said there will be no parental opt-out’.