THREE charities have defended how sex education is taught in Bradford schools and hit out at a group of MPs and the Government who have called for a review amid concerns children are being exposed to “inappropriate” sexual content.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has called for a review by the Department for Education (DfE) to “ensure that schools are not teaching inappropriate or contested content” in Relationships, Sex and Health Education (RSHE).
His pledge came after Conservative MP Miriam Cates said pupils were being subjected to relationships and sex education classes that are “age inappropriate, extreme, sexualising and inaccurate”.
Ms Cates, MP for Penistone and Stocksbridge, called on Mr Sunak to commission an independent inquiry to “end inappropriate sex education”.
She told the Commons: “Graphic lessons on oral sex, how to choke your partner safely and 72 genders. This is what passes for relationships and sex education in British schools.
“Across the country, children are being subjected to lessons that are age inappropriate, extreme, sexualising and inaccurate, often using resources from unregulated organisations that are actively campaigning to undermine parents.
“This is not a victory for equality, it is a catastrophe for childhood.”
Step 2, JAMES and HALE are three Bradford-based charities who work with Bradford Council together to offer support for RSHE across the Bradford district.
Liz Robinson, CEO of Step 2, said: “Given the amount of time we have spent in schools, we are struggling to reconcile the comments made by a group of MPs, who delivered a signed petition to Rishi Sunak, expressing their concerns about what is being taught to our children.
“What we are seeing is teachers, who are often non-specialists, working very hard with little support or training, to deliver relationships and sex education to children and young people growing up in a world where many are exposed to inappropriate material online and in the wider world at an earlier age.
“RSHE is not about the promotion of sexual activity. It is about giving people all of the information they need, so that they can make safe and healthy choices, at the most appropriate times.
“We have never been aware of or delivered any content teaching young people how to engage in some of the practices mentioned in the MPs letter.
“At times young people may ask questions about things they have seen in pornography, online material, through social media or that they have witnessed or experienced in abusive relationships.
“At that point, we would, age appropriately, give the young people factual information with the aim of helping them to recognise what is harmful and to give them the skills to help them keep safe.
“Safeguarding children and young people is the number one priority of the programme, and of all staff who deliver it.”