An initial outcry arose declaring the central role of parents in sex education, and the government disagree. The new recommendations preserve the right for parents to opt out of the SRE for their children, and also includes direction to include parents in the programme itself. The content focuses on educating children about healthy relationships and boundaries in order to keep themselves safe from abuse and unhealthy images. That will include biology and inappropriate touching, as well as different kinds of families and relationships which does include samesex relationships.
I’ve been struck by the high amount of fear in the tone of Christians responding. The arguments I hear are primarily about protecting our Christian children from being unduly influenced by the world, particularly in regards to gender and sex. At the heart of it, is the worry that we as parents and church are behind the curve, battling for out children’s spiritual lives against the overwhelming tidal wave of the world’s influence.
We are called to be in the world, but not of it. Sex, healthy relationships, and safety from abuse are all important things for children to learn about, from an early age. When I look at age-appropriate topics that the report recommends, I agree with the outline. In fact, in my own home I actually talk to my child about more than what they recommend because I want to lay a healthy foundation in my son about these topics and create an open environment for him to talk about anything with me. The key for our children to view relationships and sexuality with a Christian perspective is for us to engage with them about it before the world does, not try to isolate the world from ever talking to our children about it.
Churches can be equipping parents to have these talks with their children before their school does, we could run alternative sessions for parents who would prefer it to be taught from a Christian perspective, we can be applying for the specialist jobs so we can be at the centre of SRE delivery in our local schools, and generally raising our game in terms of making our whole communities places of healthy relationships.