Getting it right
Healthy relationships can only develop out of healthy characters.
The core values we encourage schools to teach are:
- Learning respect and tolerance through putting others’ needs before our own
- Focusing on our responsibilities more than our rights
- Learning to build trust, commitment and loyalty
- Establishing healthy, protective personal boundaries
- Enjoying innocence and protecting children from adult themes until necessary
- Valuing modesty, decency and humility
- Understanding how to build long-lasting friendships
- Valuing patience, restraint and delayed gratification over entitlement, expectation and instant gratification.
Research is clear that children growing up with their biological parents in a secure, committed marriage have the best chances of prospering in adult life: in relationships, work and general health. This is the model that we promote.
We acknowledge that there are some excellent examples of families that do not follow this pattern; however the evidence is absolutely clear that children living with their biological mother and father are likely to see better outcomes in health, family unity and socio-economic progress.1,2 We encourage schools to teach this model to enable children to develop into adults who can offer the strongest foundation for their own children.
Parents: the primary educators
The law is clear that parents are the primary educators of their children and their beliefs must be respected when teaching their children about relevant issues.
Schools have a statutory obligation to engage with parents at every stage of the RSE process and support them in teaching their children in ways that reflect parents’ beliefs and convictions, whether faith-based or non-faith-based. Respecting diversity extends to all genuinely-held beliefs.
Where it is felt that parents are not able to offer the necessary support to their child, we encourage schools to provide pastoral support in conjunction with parents and appropriate professionals.
The evidence shows that exposing children to adult imagery and concepts can permanently alter the physiological development of a child’s brain.
Discussing consent for sex and promoting high-risk sexual practices before a child’s pre-frontal cortex (responsible for assessing risk and moderating behaviour) has developed encourages them to engage in high-risk sexual behaviours when their brains cannot physiologically keep them safe from harm.3
Tolerance & respect
Healthy relationships should strive to go beyond tolerance. We encourage teaching that encourages children to deeply respect and accept every person’s inner worth, regardless of their diverse characteristics and beliefs, or whether we agree with them or not.
Teaching children how to set and maintain safe boundaries is a core requirement of any relationships curriculum. Schools must protect children from the harms of early sexualisation and the risk of sexual exploitation.
Childhood innocence needs protecting.
Sex belongs within the safety of a trusting, committed and loving relationship and marriage. Children need to be taught how to develop trusting, committed, loving relationships and the benefits of a lifestyle of delayed gratification.
Schools must support children who self-identify as gay or same-sex attracted in a pastoral one-to-one setting, in association with parents and professionals.
All children must be taught to respect and value all people equally, regardless of their beliefs, identity or characteristics.
In primary school children need only to be taught about friendship. It’s important not to confuse their understanding by equating friendship with sexual attraction.
In secondary school the following needs to be considered:
- Neuroscience is rapidly developing. The amygdala is the emotional centre of the brain, generating both fear and pleasure. In adolescence, these “gut feelings” are dominant. They gradually come under the influence of the prefrontal cortex, which brings memory, rationality and risk assessment to bear on their behaviour. High risk adolescent behaviours such as sexual promiscuity continue into the mid-twenties, only gradually being modified by increasing awareness of their risks and consequences as the prefrontal cortex matures.4
- The risks associated with some homosexual behaviours are significantly higher than those of a heterosexual nature.5,6,7,8 Schools are potentially putting children’s long-term physical and mental health at risk by promoting these behaviours whilst not fully explaining the risks.
- Sexual orientation is not fixed.9,10 By discussing and normalising high-risk sexual behaviours, schools are likely to inadvertantly increase its prevalence, again unnecessarily put children at risk.
- The age of consent is 16. Normalising sexual behaviours among minors could put children at risk of sexual exploitation.
The science of sex is clear: a human being is either male or female. Every cell in our bodies (approximately 30 trillion cells) contains either XX (female) chromosomes or XY (male) chromosomes. We encourage schools to teach these facts and positively reinforce each child’s biological identity.
The “Gender Theory” model of a sliding scale of gender is very misleading and confusing to children. The alarming rise in numbers of referrals to UK gender clinics perhaps illustrates how this ideology is already confusing young people. Any evidence supporting “Gender Theory” is unscientific: we therefore encourage schools to resist the pressure to teach it.
We encourage schools to teach children that every boy will look different, having different likes and hobbies, but they are still boys. Likewise with girls. We encourage schools to reject ideological pressure to discriminate against children who behave differently to stereotypical “gender norms”, and to celebrate the differences in each child without trying to redefine who they are.
In cases where a child is suffering from gender dysphoria (confusion over their gender), we encourage schools to offer one-to-one pastoral care, and involve parents and professionals in compassionately supporting the child. The established treatment of supporting gender dysphoric children with compassion and care offers an 80-90% chance of them finding peace with their biological sex, and resolving their dysphoria. 11
- 1 Strengthening Families Manifesto, Fiona Bruce MP. www.strengtheningfamiliesmanifesto.com
- 2 Regnerus, M. 2012. How different are the adult children of parents who have same-sex relationships? Findings from the New Family Structures Study. www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0049089X12000610
- 3 Understanding the Teen Brain. University of Rochester Medical Center. www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?ContentTypeID=1&ContentID=3051 (Accessed May 2020)
- 4 Understanding the Teen Brain. University of Rochester Medical Center. www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?ContentTypeID=1&ContentID=3051 (Accessed May 2020)
- 5 Sexual orientation, UK: 2017. ONS. www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/culturalidentity/sexuality/bulletins/sexualidentityuk/2017
- 6 HIV statistics. Terrence Higgins Trust. www.tht.org.uk/hiv-and-sexual-health/about-hiv/hiv-statistics (Accessed May 2020)
- 7 Sexually transmitted infections and screening for chlamydia in England, 2018. assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/806118/hpr1919_stis-ncsp_ann18.pdf
- 8 Mental health statistics: LGBT people. Mental Health Foundation. www.mentalhealth.org.uk/statistics/mental-health-statistics-lgbt-people (Accessed May 2020)
- 9 Royal College of Psychiatrists’ statement on sexual orientation. 2014. www.rcpsych.ac.uk/pdf/PS02_2014.pdf
- 10 Large-scale GWAS reveals insights into the genetic architecture of same-sex sexual behavior science.sciencemag.org/content/365/6456/eaat7693
- 11 Archives of Disease in Childhood, 2019, BMJ 2019, WPATH conference 2016