Young Humanists challenge rejection of LGBT inclusive materials

December 8, 2020

At the end of November Western Isles Council passed a motion to reject the use of new materials relating to Relationships, Sexual Health and Parenthood in schools under their control, and promote more restrictive materials designed for use in Catholic schools. Concerns had been raised about the suitability of the materials by church leaders who said that the inclusion of material relating to LGBT identities could, “confuse and prematurely sexualise young minds” and encourage “heterophobic and faithophobic” bullying against pupils whose religious identity was opposed to the acceptance of LGBT people. 

Young Humanists Scotland has launched a petition in response to the move to call for all councils to ensure fully inclusive sex education in all schools across Scotland.

Young Humanists Scotland Ambassador, Jake Stevenson, said:

It is really disappointing to read that Comhairle nan eilean sair have voted to restrict the education of young people in the Western Isles by rejecting LGBTQ+ Inclusive education. All young people in Scotland, especially young LGBTQ+ should have access to RSHP in schools as it gives them vital knowledge to live happier and healthier lives. This needs to change. If any progress is to be made the restrictions on RSHP have to go.

Jake Stevenson, Young Humanists Scotland

The Relationships, Sexual Health and Parenthood (RSHP) materials were developed in partnership by local authorities, health boards and third sector organisations, with support from Education Scotland and the Scottish Government. They have been rejected by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar on a religious basis without scrutiny of the evidential benefits of responsible age-appropriate sex and relationship education, or consideration of the right of all young people in Scotland to access fact-based, objective, and balanced RSHP education. 

Humanist Society Scotland are deeply concerned that a decision has been taken that ignores the advice of educational professionals and the rights of children and young people, in order to appease a faith-based argument. This decision could have a negative impact on the health of young people – particularly LGBT young people, and could be used as a model for other councils to make the same decision. 

We have written to both Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and the Scottish Government to raise our concerns and to ask that they reconsider this decision in a framework that places professional expertise and the right of every young person to see themselves reflected in RSHP materials at the centre of the decision-making process.

Humanist Society Scotland Chief Executive, Fraser Sutherland said,

Humanist Society Scotland have long been champions of the Scottish Government’s work to  better respect Children and Young People’s rights. I am concerned that this recent decision by  Comhairle nan Eilean Siar places religious belief above every young Scot’s right to receive facts-based and inclusive sex and relationship education.

Fraser Sutherland, Humanist Society Scotland

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