Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: Education
Front Page 
World 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Hot Topics 
UK Systems 
League Tables 
Features 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 


The BBC's Sue Littlemore
"A compromise has been reached"
 real 28k

Baroness Young
"The difficulty is the amendment equates married life with stable relationships"
 real 28k

Union leader Nigel de Gruchy
"It's essential schools be given some discretion"
 real 28k

Thursday, 16 March, 2000, 17:03 GMT
Sex education will emphasise marriage
pshe lesson
Guidelines will form part of the national curriculum
Teachers in England will be expected to tell pupils about the importance of both marriage and "stable relationships" in sex education lessons.

Pupils will also be discouraged from having sex at too young an age - with advice for teenagers on the benefits of delaying sexual relationships.



Sex education lessons should show the importance of marriage for family life, stable and loving relationships, respect, love and care ... It is not about the promotion of sexual orientation or sexual activity - this would be inappropriate teaching.

Department for Education guidance.
The proposals have been put forward by the government as part of a deal intended to allow the scrapping of Section 28 - the law which bans the "promotion" of homosexuality by local authorities.

The 10,000-word guidance has been published for consultation by the Department for Education.

It says that sex education should establish "the importance of marriage for family life, stable and loving relationships, respect, love and care.

"It is also about the teaching of sex, sexuality, and sexual health. It is not about the promotion of sexual orientation or sexual activity - this would be inappropriate teaching."



'Stable' might mean being together for one week, 10 years, 50 years, and 'relationship' might mean relationships of all sorts

Baroness Young
The Education Secretary Savid Blunkett emphasised that the guidelines balanced the needs for pupils' "spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development".

The guidelines, he said would help "schoolchildren to learn to understand human sexuality; learn the good reasons for postponing sexual activity and learn about obtaining appropriate advice on sexual health".

The Bishop of Blackburn, who presented the concerns of Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops to the education secretary, said: "We have to recognise that stable relationships do exist.


rt rev alan chesters
Alan Chesters: "Marriage and stable relationships both exist"
"Marriage and stable relationships within society are significant but different, and the difference lies in the relationship to the nurture of children."

But the wording has failed to satisfy Baroness Young, former Tory leader in the Lords, who led the opposition to repeal.

She said: "I would not be happy about the term 'stable relationship'.


house of lords
The arguments will be revisited in the House of Lords
"'Stable' might mean being together for one week, 10 years, 50 years, and 'relationship' might mean relationships of all sorts."

The Liberal Democrat education spokesman, Phil Willis, said the government should not be "legislating for morality".

"Existing education legislation makes it clear that it should be the responsibility of the head teachers and the governors to agree sex education with parents," he said.

"Giving teachers a direct say in their children's sex education is a far better way of reflecting parental wishes."

Debate continues

The government's opponents in the Lords could still continue the fight over Section 28.

The amendment is due to be debated when the Learning and Skills Bill receives its Third Reading in the Lords next Thursday.

The latest government proposals come after a similar compromise was drawn up by ministers in the Scottish Parliament.



It is absolutely essential we get rid of Section 28. The guidelines must allow us to handle the issue of homosexuality in a way which prevents pupils being discriminated against or bullied.

David Hart, head teachers' union leader
The prospect of a deal to remove Section 28 was welcomed by a head teachers' leader.

"It is absolutely essential we get rid of Section 28. That serves no purpose at all. The guidelines must also allow us to ... handle the issue of homosexuality in a way which prevents pupils being discriminated against or bullied.

"Unless we do both, we are never going to deliver what all pupils legitimately want, which is sex education in the context of society in which we live," said the general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, David Hart.

But Peter Smith, the general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said sex education must put pupils' personal needs first.

The association is concerned that pupils will become alienated by what is taught at school, particularly if they are at a stage where they are discovering their sexuality, or if they do not come from a "stable" family background.

Mr Smith said: "It is wrong for any child to be socially excluded because of her or his family background or sexual orientation."

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
BBC RADIO NEWS
BBC ONE TV NEWS
WORLD NEWS SUMMARY
PROGRAMMES GUIDE

Talking PointTALKING POINT
Sex education
Whose responsibility is it to guide children?

graphic
Fuss about nothing?

See also:

16 Mar 00 | Education
Section 28 debate a 'charade'
20 Jan 00 | Scotland
When gay became a four-letter word
19 Jan 00 | Scotland
Section 28: A parent's view
19 Jan 00 | Scotland
Section 28: Church leaders
19 Jan 00 | Scotland
Section 28: A gay man's view
09 Mar 00 | UK Politics
Teachers told to promote marriage
28 Feb 00 | Education
Bishops face Section 28 pressure
Links to other Education stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Education stories