Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) today put on a Study Day for clergy on the problems of sex education in Britain with particular reference to the Children, Schools and Families Bill.
Fr John Fleming gave a lucid and concise presentation of the problems with the proposed legislation. Extensive research carried out in Australia has shown that although there is widespread support for sex education programmes, the majority of people are actually not familiar with the content of those programmes. The same is true in Britain where the DCSF cite a study showing that although parents report being in favour of schools providing factual information, 57% know little or nothing of the content of the sex education courses. The vast majority report that no consultation has taken place about the courses.
Fr Fleming highlighted the fact that despite the intention of sex education being to reduce STIs and teenage pregnancies, the evidence shows that not only have these aims not been achieved, quite the reverse has happened.
At the same time, the right to life of the unborn, the right of children not to be sexualised, the right of parents to be the primary educators of their children,the right of parents to expect their values to be respected by the state and the right to freedom of speech, have all been undermined and contradicted.
Fr Fleming drew attention to the contradictions inherent in the "reassurances" of Ed Balls who asserts that "faith schools" have the right to teach their "beliefs" but must at the same time give information about various practices that are at odds with their beliefs.
I suggested that the various materials from the Study Day should be made available on the internet and this suggestion was favourably received so I hope to provide links soon. John Smeaton, the National Director of SPUC spoke powerfully about the need for priests to witness to the sanctity of life in this area. He was also uncompromising in his criticism of the Catholic Education Service of England and Wales which has welcomed the government's proposed legislation.
in addition to the informative lectures, SPUC provided the clergy with a good opportunity to meet with each other and with lay people who are active in the pro-life apostolate.