Remember the previous post about the pre-general election ‘wash up’? The Tories are now making mischief with sex education. From Ed Balls’ letter on his website to his shadow Michael Gove:
I am especially disappointed that, despite our conversation yesterday, you could not agree to make PSHE statutory in all state-funded schools. There is now widespread agreement that statutory PSHE is essential to prepare young people for adult life, and our reforms would ensure that by reducing the age of parental opt-out to 15, all children receive at least one year of compulsory sex and relationship education (SRE).
There is a large body of evidence showing that good SRE leads to young people taking greater responsibility and waiting longer to have their first sexual experience and thus reduced teenage pregnancy rates. It is because of this the provisions of the Bill had received such significant support in Parliament and more broadly across the sector, with faith groups and with parents.
As I explained yesterday, your insistence that parents should have a right to withdraw their children until they reach the age of 16 – the age at which they are in many respects considered adults – makes it impossible for us to proceed. Both British and European case law do not support an opt-out up to the age of 16. As I explained when we discussed yesterday, that amendment would have meant that the bill would not have been compliant with the ECHR. Your insistence that the age limit must be increased to 16 would have made the entire bill non-compliant with UK and European law and, therefore, our lawyers advised me that, as Secretary of State, I had no choice but to remove all the PSHE provisions.
This is a very significant set back, which will deny many young people proper and balanced sex and relationships education. I also strongly disagree with your insistence that children and young people attending academies should be excluded.
What a surprise. From the Shadow Home Secretary’s stumble over gay rights, we now move to the Shadow Children’s Secretary showing no interest whatsoever in empowering young people. And of course Balls (albeit hypocritically) shows they have no interest in human rights – they’re committed to repealing the Human Rights Act after all. The closer we get to May 6th the more the Tories start to reveal themselves as just as nasty as they were last time they were in power. Don’t be fooled for a moment about what these people are really like and for Heaven’s sake don’t vote for them.
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