On the BBC on Sunday
Those nice people at the BBC have asked me to talk about Chris Bryant’s Sex Education Bill on BBC Local Radio on Sunday morning. I guess Stephen Green was busy or something. Of course, if Chris could get round to publishing the Bill before Friday’s second reading that would help me tremendously…
My schedule is now in place, so you can hear me on the following BBC stations.
Perhaps you could ask him nicely?
The SPUC have produced a briefing on the Bill, if that is of any help.
Actually, that's *really* useful.
I hope you can resist the temptation to talk about sex education a la Chris Bryant … first of all, boys and girls, when you are grown up you have to strip down to your undergarments, then you take a photo of yourself and post it on Gaydar …
(Sorry!! Cheap shot!)
The Family Education Trust is a good source of information about what is actually being taught in schools at present, and what is in the pipeline unless we put up some very firm resistance.
I suppose parents have the right to teach anything regarding sex to their children, including that they were brought by a stork or were found under a gooseberry bush – or indeed to the question "Where did I come from Mummy?" "I don't know dear, I was under an anaesthetic at the time". In view of the horrendous rates of teen-age pregnancies and rising STDs what is the the government to do? Just say no, is all very fine if that's what kids do, but at least if they don't surely we want them to be better informed than "I can't get pregnant if I do it standing up in a telephone box". You may be right, Jill, that Chris Bryant doesn't have the confidence of parents to be the frontman for this. The Government does need to grasp this nettle. It seems just leaving it to parents is not the solution, regrettably.
There is simply no evidence of a link between more sex education and reducing teenage pregnancies. As for the STD issue, that is clearly covered in the Science curriculum of Key Stage 3.
I'll blog tomorrow on Chris Bryant's actual proposals.
A fine upstanding example of the form modern sex education takes is shown in this video, sponsored by Marie Stopes.
You will see that they recommend anal sex as a means of avoiding pregnancy.
When the SORS were first mooted I remember posting on blogs that this was a case of the government giving the green light to unhealthy sexual practices, anal sex specifically – a bit like the school nurse handing out cigarettes – and was laughed to derision and accused of scare-mongering. Well, here we are.
Well, someone who only has anal sex probably won't get pregnant and, contrary to most rhetoric on the evils of sodomy, contract bowel cancer or AIDS either…;)
I do think it's important for Christians to recognise that feminism, not the 'gay agenda', has had the largest impact on sex eduction. Not to be vulgar, but the stereotype of chaste young women being pressurised into ungodly acts by unregenerate boys has hasn't been true for a while. Rhetoric on 'saving the family' is wholly alarmist. Lots of people have no interest in getting married. That in no way means that they object to the institutiom of marriage itself . Take feminism again. Those same young horny 18 year old women who go off to Uni bent on smashing patriachal assumptions often, age 24 or 25, not only procure a permanent romantic partner but hear the pull of Wedding Bells. I think the Christian Conservative lobby made themselves look wholly cruel and divorced from reality in (e.g.) the Section 28 debate. Whether Christians like it or not, lots of teenagers are liable to be gay, and even more of them are going to have sex (and, of course, gay people pay taxes and have a share in goverment too). So reality means that safe sex advice is necessary. If, to the Christian, teenagers where prone to have lots of pre-marital sex ('boys will be boy's' 'sowing wild oats' etc etc) in a halycon Christian Britian age, then how likely is it that they'll abstain in a pornified postmodern culture?
It is curious that evangelical Christians don't criticise feminism more. I've heard far, far,far more condemntations of homosexuality in evangementalist churches than I have abortion, which is curious. Is the supposed link from 'homosexuality being decrimininalised' to 'political correctness gone mad!' *REALLY* more troubling than that between 'women should have autonomy over their bodies, hence birth control' and 'women should have autonomy over their bodies, hence abortion'?
Really, there's no need for insults like that. Completely undermines the good points you're trying to make Ryan.
What's this blog called again?! ;-) I maintain that 'evangementalist' is a useful word in certain contexts (wouldn't *you* say that there are many areas where it would be acceptable to conflate 'liberal' and 'secular', but using such a word in sociological contexts doesn't mean that liberal theology and secular thinking – whatever that is – are qualitively the same?) And I'd just used the word 'evangelical' and it would look dull to replete it again. However, I certainly agree in the importance of not using words that inhibit constructive dialogue, so will hereby avoid the use of e————– in future!
I am not sure which thread to post under, Chris Bryant's bill or here where the conversation started. As this looks livelier I'll do it here. I want to ask Peter why he says there is no evidence that sex education reduces teen-age pregnancies. I presume you meant in the UK where the consensus seems to be that if it is done it is done badly? What about the Dutch experience? I know, I know, I've read "Lessons in Dutch mythology" (URL below). Robert Whelan's outfit the Family Education Trust tries to make a case against the comparability of the UK and the Dutch situations but it seems he is damning it before it can be tried here for ideological reasons. You see our dear cousins the Dutch are way too liberal for Robert's rigorous Catholic tastes. I went to a presentation of the FET some years ago and heard a nun who described herself as The Enforcer and who ran a latter-day 'Magdalen laundry' for unmarried mums in Chicago tell us how we should do it here: just say no, non tolerance of those who don't, encourage them to put their babies up for adoption and cut their benefits. Well, if the Dutch (European model) won't work here, why should the North American – just because we are divided by the same language, aren't we much further apart ideologically, despite George Bush's and Tony Blair's special relationship?
Here are some URLs
Thanks to Jill for her SPUC link. But why, oh why do they have to try to take such a blatant scatter-gun approach and make just about everyone the enemy, even those groups that have not concerned themselves officially with the abortion question?
The pro-abortion lobby has strong support from its allies in family-planning, youth counselling and homosexual organisations.
This kind of exaggeration does nothing to help their cause and rightly makes people who might otherwise consider abortion an ill think twice before supporting SPUC when their agenda seems more ideological than the protection of the unborn.
The Anastacia de Waal article is really interesting because it gets to the heart of the issue. Good sex education is to do with teaching the biology but also the consequences. Pregnancy is the number one risk of sex and often what passes for sex education in the UK is a virtual manual on how to enjoy it as much as possible.
That said, the Dutch experience stems out of a (calivinist and roman catholic) culture that takes relationships and family life much more seriously then the secularised UK. On top of that, sex education in the Netherlands is not complusory and varies widely from school to school as it does here.
The bottom line is that there is little hard evidence that the low Dutch teenage pregnancy rates are directly related to the specifics of the sex education delivered. It probably has much more to do with the culture around sex shared by a large proportion of the population, a culture we seem to be lacking here.
I can vouch for Peter's statement above. My husband is Dutch, and so is his whole family. Admittedly they are all religious folk (of a low-church nature), but they take the concept of family much more seriously and they stick together. As he says, sex education is not compulsory, and the children tend to learn from the family – which has a much more positive image than it does here in the UK.
“…the family – which has a much more positive image than it does here in the UK.”
Now I call that interesting, Jill. We used to be told by obscurantists – and still are today, although less frequently – that the acceptance of homosexuality would destroy the family, although exactly how was never convincingly explained. It’s good to have confirmation from you that in a country where there has been much greater acceptance of homosexuality than there has here and for longer (although it’s far from universal even in the Netherlands, as I know from Dutch friends) this hasn’t happened. What need we any further witnesses? (Mind you, I always knew anyway that it was a lie.)