Back to top

RSE debate in Westminster Hall - 25th February 2019

19 February 2019

A parliamentary debate about RSE will take place in Westminster Hall on 25th February 2019, in response to a parliamentary e-petition. We have produced a briefing for MPs and other interested parties. 

An e-petition with the title 'Give parents the right to opt their child out of Relationship and Sex Education' has received over 100,000 signatories. The E-petition states “We believe it is the parent’s fundamental right to teach their child RSE topics or to at least decide who teaches them and when and how they are taught. We want the right to opt our children out of RSE when it becomes mandatory in Sept 2020”.

The Government has responded to the e-petition stating: “The draft guidance advises head teachers that parents can request that their child be withdrawn from sex education as part of RSE”, and goes on to  explain that “These subjects represent a huge opportunity to help our children and young people develop, to treat each other with kindness, respect and integrity, in order to become successful and happy adults who make a meaningful contribution to our society”.

Summary points from Sex Education Forum briefing 

-    The majority of parents want schools to teach RSE (92% in a 2016 independent poll, PSHE Association). Effective RSE is a partnership between parents and schools.

-    Education, not ignorance is the only way that children will be able to recognise abusive behaviour and know how to seek help. 1 in 20 children are sexually abused and 1 in 3 did not tell an adult (Radford, 2011). Sexual abuse can happen to any child, so the only way to safeguard children is to ensure Relationships Education has no opt out.  

-    Bullying and poor mental health affects LGBT young people at alarming rates. Nearly half of LGBT pupils (45 per cent) – are bullied for being LGBT at school (Stonewall, 2017). Schools are already required to teach in a way that does not discriminate on protected characteristics, so a LGBT inclusive approach to RSE is nothing new. 

-    Schools can choose the resources they use to teach RSE, and can choose to include faith perspectives alongside essential information about the law, legal rights and medical facts.

-    Teachers need training in RSE so that schools can offer the high quality provision. 80% of parents want teachers to have training in RSE (Sex Education Forum, 2018).

To read the briefing in full please download from the link below. 

Join our countdown: for analysis of the new RSE guidance and advice in the run up to statutory RSE sign up & #Countdownwithus