Thinking Anglicans

CofE responds to government consultation on Sex Education

The UK government recently held a consultation on Changes to the teaching of Sex & Relationship Education and PSHE.

The Church of England has now published its response to that consultation:
Changes to the teaching of Relationships and Sex Education and PSHE: A call for evidence Church of England Education Office Response

And in addition Nigel Genders the Church of England’s Chief Education Officer has published comment on this response, here.

This has had quite a lot of media coverage, for example:

BBC Sex education: Schools ‘should promote celibacy’, says Church of England

Times Educational Supplement Pupils should be taught that abstinence and celibacy are ‘positive life choices’, C of E says

Telegraph Teach pupils the value of abstinence and celibacy, says Church of England

Independent Pupils should be taught in school that abstinence and celibacy are ‘positive life choices’, says Church of England

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T PottBernard Silvermanpeterpi - Peter GrossDavid EmmottErika Baker Recent comment authors
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Laurie Roberts
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Laurie Roberts

‘Pupils should be taught about the value of abstinence and celibacy as part of their sex education lessons, the Church of England has said.’ (Telegraph)

This is quite extraordinary given that the bishops and ministers of the C of E are not known to practice celibacy themselves !

Let this be taught, if at all, only by lifelong celibates – we have no need of further obfuscation and hypocrisy, have we not ?

Kate
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Kate

So abstinence before marriage is recommended. Standard stuff. The difficulty is that CofE doesn’t recommend or recognise same sex marriage so the proposal effectively amounts to a recommendation of abstinence for LGBT pupils.

Similarly, sexual health in the document focuses on heterosexual sex and leaves gay and lesbian sex out of the picture

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

“RSE should teach the diversity of healthy relationships, lifestyle choices and beliefs and schools must be given the flexibility to reflect their own ethos and values as well as that of their local context. This must include their context of belief, faith and religion. In Church schools RSE must be culturally and community sensitive as well as encompass the teachings of the Church, including the Christian understanding of marriage as the context for sexual relationships and the importance of trust, loyalty, fidelity and choice as well as the understanding of abstinence and celibacy as positive life choices.” I think that’s… Read more »

David Emmott
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David Emmott

‘In its response to the government’s consultation on what content should be included in the guidance, the Church of England says pupils should be taught that “humans express their sexuality differently and that there is diversity in sexual desire”.

It also says that pupils with same-sex or trans parents, those who have LGBT+ family members – and those who may identify as LGBT+ – should feel included and find relationships education helpful.’

Interesting. Is this the same Church of England that refuses to ordain anyone who ‘expresses their sexuality differently’?

peterpi - Peter Gross
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peterpi - Peter Gross

To Kate, if I may make a minor but significant friendly amendment to your statement:

“CofE doesn’t recommend or recognise same sex marriage so the proposal effectively amounts to a recommendation of LIFELONG abstinence for LGBT pupils.”

Bernard Silverman
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Bernard Silverman

A crucial sentence in the response is the following: “In Church schools, the Christian understanding of marriage as a spiritual relationship based on Christ’s relationship with the church will be key, as will the Christian teaching of marriage as the context for sexual expression.” However, nowhere is the response explicit that this rules out same-sex marriage. Either that’s taken for granted, or the document is carefully written to allow for possibility that the Church of England’s official position might change in the future. Or it’s deliberately written to be ambiguous. Or it’s actually playing to a particular part of its… Read more »

T Pott
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T Pott

“In Church schools the Christian understanding ..,”

Why should the Christian understanding be any less important in non-Church schools? Is this another instance of the Church abandoning the people? The majority of Catholics attend Catholic schools. For historical reasons the majority of Protestants do not attend CofE schools, that does not mean they have less right to be given a Christian understanding on any subject than their peers in denominational schools. They are not swine, unworthy to be cast the pearls, but residents in a Christian country with an established Church which owes them a Christian education.