We need progress on sex and relationships education

There have been reports that the UK Government is considering introducing compulsory sex and relationships education for schools in England and Wales (including removing the opt-out option for faith schools).

This follows calls from the Scottish Government for the UK Government to ratify the Istanbul Convention, which includes a requirement to “include teaching material on issues such as equality between women and men, non-stereotyped gender roles, mutual respect, non-violent conflict resolution in interpersonal relationships, gender-based violence against women and the right to personal integrity, adapted to the evolving capacity of learners, in formal curricula and at all levels of education” (Istanbul Convention Art.14.1).

Humanist Society Scotland ran a campaign for reform of sex education in Scotland in 2014, which resulted in new guidance being published in December of that year. At the time HSS gave a ‘cautious welcome’ to the new guidance, noting that the new guidance ‘give an effective veto to faith schools, which educate more than 1-in-5 of Scotland’s young people’.

Gordon MacRae, HSS Chief Executive

Gordon MacRae, HSS Chief Executive

Commenting on these new developments, HSS Chief Executive Gordon MacRae commented:

“It’s encouraging to see the Scottish Government make strong calls for the implementation of the important measures contained in the Istanbul Convention, including appropriate relationships education. Given that the UK Parliament had to rely on the votes of SNP MPs to get the Convention through, it is a clear sign off the support in Scotland for age appropriate sex and relationships education for young people across the UK.

“Pupils in Scotland must not be left behind those elsewhere in the UK. We look forward to the Scottish Government reviewing their arrangements and removing the effective veto that faith schools have over the rights of young people to receive science based sex and relationship education.”

For more information or comment contact Gary McLelland on gary@humanism.scot or 07813060713.


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