Why are pre-pubescent pupils learning about ‘rough sex’ and preferred pronouns in secret?
March 4, 2023 – Louisa Clarence-Smith / The Telegraph
What is going on in relationships and sex education lessons in schools? This week, MPs have raised the alarm about the volume of messages they are receiving from concerned parents who say they don’t know where else to turn.
Conservative MP Miriam Cates has presented Prime Minister Rishi Sunak with a dossier of evidence on the “nature and extent of indoctrination” in Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) in UK classrooms. It includes an abundance of case studies of sex education materials devised for teachers which state that gender is “fluid” as a fact, or include teaching that many parents consider age inappropriate. In some schools, children as young as 12 have been asked in lessons what they “feel” about oral and anal sex.
“My 13-year-old was taught that there are 100 genders,” says one mother at an independent school in the East Midlands. “At that age my children have been taught ‘accepted terminology’ such as ‘cis gender’, ‘non-binary’ and ‘gender fluid’ with no suggestion that many people would find these terms and this ideology contrary to their beliefs – religious or otherwise.”
Another mother of a child at a London state school says her child was taught about masturbation in their last year of primary school by teachers she barely knew. She became concerned after teachers told parents that during RSE lessons: “What happens in the room, stays in the room.” She said: “I have a teaching background and I said, ‘That’s what paedophiles say’. Then there was this whole discussion. They had cards on the table, discussing whatever was on the card, and one of them [said] masturbation. Lots of parents were saying: ‘You might frighten my child talking about this because they are 10.’ Who wants their child sitting with another person’s son or daughter discussing this?”
Mrs Cates is among MPs calling for an “urgent inquiry” into sex education in schools. “For the last year-and-a-half I’ve been working on this and it’s becoming more and more clear how inappropriate [these] materials are,” Mrs Cates told The Telegraph.
The New Social Covenant Unit, a think tank Mrs Cates co-founded in 2022, is preparing to publish the study presented to Mr Sunak which states that the “nation’s children are being put at risk” by teachers with “a radical ideological position on sex, gender and sexuality” who are “monopolising the RSE sector in the UK”.
The proliferation of contentious and sexually explicit teaching content can be traced back to 2019, when the Department for Education published new statutory guidance on RSE.
Damian Hinds, then education secretary, wrote in the foreword to the guidance that the Department’s “guiding principles have been that all of the compulsory subject content must be age appropriate and developmentally appropriate”.
However, the boundaries it set were more vague than the Government’s earlier guidance, dating back to 2000, which had stated that “the promotion of sexual orientation or sexual activity” would be “inappropriate teaching”.
The new guidance also specified that “gender identity” should be taught in “an age-appropriate and inclusive way”.
Mark Lehain, a former head teacher and DfE special adviser, says the new document was a “masterclass in consensus building”, but it gave schools a minimum requirement of what to teach without giving teachers a “ceiling”. Schools also found there were limited teaching resources available.
This has created an opening for “activist groups’’ to fill the gap. Organisations including Stonewall, the LGBTQ+ charity, began working with hundreds of schools on how to “map out an LGBT-inclusive approach to [RSE].” The New Social Covenant Unit report highlights other RSE resource providers, including the School of Sexuality Education, which is understood to have worked with more than 300 schools and states it has a “sex-positive approach both in the classroom and in general”.
The charity’s workshop facilitators include Dr Emma Chan, who, on a personal blog, has published a video of herself singing a song called Let’s All Masturbate, followed by a link to an article that advises readers how to do so.
Nadia Deen, a workshop facilitator for the School of Sexuality Education, uses the charity to advertise her own sex-education website, which includes articles on “anal fun and frolics” and “the problem with heteronormativity”.
A book used by teachers in schools that the charity promotes on its website, Great Relationships and Sex Education, advises teachers to “emphasise that love and affection are often important parts of good sex, but not always. For others, good sex is quick, rough and anonymous. You can also explore the fact that some people enjoy feeling pain during sex, which is often referred to as kink or BDSM.”
When a chief executive of a multi-academy trust was presented with such evidence, she defended the organisation and said that she had agreed not to share the lesson plan with parents, the think tank found.
A spokesperson for the School of Sexuality Education said: “We find the politicisation of relationships and sex education very concerning and will continue to provide high-quality, inclusive, age-appropriate RSE in line with the government guidance and young people’s rights.”
The agendas of external groups appear to have influenced teaching materials prepared by teachers and local authorities. An RSE education programme drawn up for schools by Swindon Borough Council last year includes a demonstration of dams, or flavoured latex, to prevent the spread of STIs during oral sex, and promotes masturbation as a way of “expressing themselves sexually”.
Case studies to be used as discussion points for Year 11 pupils (children aged between 15 and 16) include a situation where a boy wants to take his relationship to “the next level” by creating a video of him and his partner having sex.
Other popular RSE resource providers include Pop ’n’ Olly, a company which provides LGBT+ educational resources to primary schools. Its book, What does LGBT+ mean?, which is designed for nine-year-olds and older, explores “identity, assigned sex, gender, love, sexuality, discrimination, privilege, allyship, pride and more”.
Nick Fletcher, the Conservative MP for the Don Valley, warned the Prime Minister in the House of Commons that schools are spending money on materials by organisations that “are educating our boys and girls that they may not have been born in the right body or have an inner gender identity”.
He is contacted every week by concerned parents who are “at a loss with it,” he told The Telegraph. “I just really don’t think that primary school children and secondary school children should be exposed to this kind of ideology at that tender age.”
“Schools are stuck between activists and the guidance”, says Mr Lehain. “Ofsted made it quite clear that if you weren’t covering the minimum, then that would have an impact on the school’s [Ofsted report]. But no school has been hammered for going too far, because there is no ceiling.”
Mrs Cates says that schools have “been put in an extremely difficult position”. She points out that the DfE guidance on political impartiality, published last year, said that schools had to balance their legal duty not to politically indoctrinate children with the Equality Act.
“The equality duty requires schools to be activists in the classroom and that does not fit with anti-indoctrination law,” she says. “Most headteachers probably don’t understand the law, which makes it very difficult for them to make a decision. That’s why it has to come from the Government.”
Meanwhile parents have faced battles to view teaching materials because third-party providers have told schools they can’t be distributed for copyright reasons. One mother with children at a London primary school said that when she challenged the school over RSE lessons and asked to see the resources, they said no. “They had signed an agreement with the provider saying that they were not to share the resources with anyone other than the person teaching,” she says.
The Department for Education has been saying since last summer that it would write to schools reminding them that they should “make it clear that if a parent requests to see teaching materials, copyright law does not prevent a school from sharing [it] with parents in person on the school premises.” The letter has yet to be sent.
James Esse, co-founder of Thoughtful Therapists, a group of counsellors, clinical psychologists and psychotherapists who have banded together over their concern over what is being taught to children, says: “I have parents reaching out to me all the time with concerns about materials that children are being taught in schools.” He says that at an independent girls school in London, after-school “gender alliance” clubs are run by transgender sixth-form students for very young pupils. “I think we need to end indoctrination in schools because that’s exactly what’s happening,” he says. “There needs to be clear guidance on schools not pushing contentious ideology as fact, and guidance in terms of children transitioning in schools.
“Gender dysphoria [the feeling that there is a mismatch between your biological sex and your gender] is a mental health condition. I can’t think of another instance where a child presents with a mental health condition and it is kept from parents.”
Molly Kingsley, of parents’ campaign group UsForThem, said the group is becoming “increasingly concerned about the hijacking of children’s sex education by extreme trans and gender ideologies.” “Child safeguarding trumps political correctness”, she adds.
Families from some faith groups have had particular concerns about whether materials are age-appropriate. However, government insiders say it is often “liberal parents” who write to say they don’t think nine-year-olds need to be taught that there are dozens of different gender identities and encouraged to go on Pride marches.
A DfE spokesperson said: “We will write to all schools this term to emphasise the rights of parents to see teaching materials being taught to their children. Schools must make sure all content they use is factual and age-appropriate, and engage with parents so they are aware of what their children are being taught.”
Mrs Cates, who is waiting to hear back from the Prime Minister, says she hopes the new evidence “will be a wake-up call for the Government”.
“The idea of children aged 11 and 12 being taught how to masturbate − it’s just horrendous,” she says. “And to talk about sexual desires with adults you don’t know is potentially a safeguarding risk.
“The Government has a basic duty to keep children safe in schools,” she adds. “I hope that the report will encourage even more parents to shed a light on what their children are being taught.”