Yes to sex and relationships education, No to Nadine Dorries’ sexist proposals on abstinence education

In QUAC, Tories, Uncategorized on 24/01/2012 at 11:29 am

Friday January 20 saw a noisy but thoughtful demonstration outside the House of Parliament when the second reading of Nadine Dorries’ Bill, which would have forced schools to offer girls aged between 13-16 extra sex education lessons which would have included advice on “the benefits of abstinence. The loudest cheer went up when the picket was informed that the sexist Bill had been withdrawn.

The protest, called by a number of organisations including Queers Against the Cuts, the British Humanist Association (BHA), Abortion Rights, Liberal Conspiracy, Education for Choice, the National Secular Society, Parents and Carers for Sex and Relationships Education (P4SRE), the Socialist Party, Youth Fight for Jobs, Feminist Fightback,  Slut Means Speak Up, Bristol Feminist Network and Left Front Art heard a series of speakers who argued cogently that everyone is entitled to sex and relationships education and that the teaching of abstinence does not reduce the amount of sex young people have.

Indeed if young women and men don’t have access to proper sex education the number of unwanted teenage pregnancies are likely to increase. Other contributions pointed out that women’s ability to say no to unwanted sexual contact is undermined by the lack of  positive sex education – a point underlined by Education for Choice who had all of us acting out two sketches which they use in schools. Queers against the Cuts had been invited to send a speaker but because I was not sure I was going to be able to be present until the last minute I hadn’t agreed. I was a bit disappointed to see there was not more visible LGBT prescence – we need to step this up for future actions on this question

While it is extremely positive that the Bill has been withdrawn the whole issue of Sex Education is something that we need to keep on a socialist and feminist and queer agenda given the increasing growth of faith schools and academies some of which are funded by deeply reactionary foundations. From this point of view it was disappointing not to see any presence from the NUT or other teaching unions on the protest. While it was great to see so many young women and a number of young men there it essential that the trade union movement as a whole and in particular those in education take up the issue.

This is particularly important because it seems at time of writing that Dorries is now threatening to retable her bill or add it to another one

Terry Conway 24/1/2012

  1. We need to keep an eye out for this attempt at restricting abortion counselling and the right to choose. Another Dorries’ initiative which has gone to an all party committe for consideration. Diane Abbot walked out of it. Obviously solidarity on our part with women’s reproductive rights.

  2. See this link on Gove’s anti-democratic privatisation of the education system.

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