The battle over relationship education heats up

Andrew Moffat. Credit: Humanist UK

The British government has issued new common-sense guidelines on the new compulsory RSE (Relationship and Sex Education) programme due to COVID-19, allowing more time for reflection on the lesson materials to be used and proper consultations with parents. The newly revised guidelines dissuade the promotion of certain ideologies, which until now, have largely gone unchecked. The UK government is now promoting the protection of children against trans ideology, sexist stereotypes, one-sided political agendas and pornography and advise against working with organisations that promote such materials. Some points raised are:

Transgender ideology

“You should not reinforce harmful stereotypes, for instance by suggesting that children might be a different gender based on their personality and interests or the clothes they prefer to wear. Materials which suggest that non-conformity to gender stereotypes should be seen as synonymous with having a different gender identity should not be used and you should not work with external agencies or organisations that produce such material.”

Political impartiality

“Your local authority, governing body and headteacher must … secure that where political issues are brought to the attention of pupils, they are offered a balanced presentation of opposing views.”


“Great caution should be exercised before setting any assignment, in class or at home, that involves researching a subject where there is a high risk that a child could accidentally be exposed to age-inappropriate material, such as pornography. Particularly at primary level, you should be careful not to expose children to over-sexualised content.”

The Values Foundation has stated that despite these new guidelines, misleading and inaccurate RSE continues to be used in hundreds of schools across the UK and children and their families are being bullied for refusing to toe the line. British headteachers Andrew Moffatt and Susan Papas have both been accused of using the sessions to indoctrinate pupils, resulting in parents withdrawing hundreds of students from schools, yet have been widely praised by the British media.

Andrew Moffat has produced an RSE handbook called No Outsiders, which RSE Review states is age-inappropriate and heavily politicised. Moffat admits that his RSE materials were heavily influenced by academically popular ‘queer theory’. He dismisses any such concerns that his material is sexualising children as homophobia.

Former BBC journalist Shelly Charlesworth who has analysed Moffat’s handbook, states the teaching plans raise serious questions about Moffat’s judgment, his knowledge of the law, and his understanding of girls’ needs for privacy and boundaries. Despite his claims that his RSE programme is about ensuring there are no ‘outsiders’ in his school, Moffat says in response to telling children that a well-known rugby player was gay: “There was one audible gasp from a child in year 6 but otherwise there was no reaction at all, which was quite nice as it demonstrated to the shocked child that he was alone in his reaction; his homophobia made him the outsider.” 

Susan Papas is being taken to court by UK Christian Concern accused of bullying children who didn’t want to participate in LGBT lessons. Star pupil Kaysey eloquently expressed her concerns that since LGBT lessons have begun, many of her school friends are now confused about whether they are bisexual or trans. Children who were once confident in their personality are now asking why they can’t be someone else.  It took a child to raise genuine concerns about such lessons but it is reported that Papas responded by accusing the student of wanting to kill LGBT people and isolated her in a room for five hours. She has since been reported to school authorities.

Many in the media have also chosen to ignore the fact that those who have been victimised by white, middle-class, headteachers are mostly of colour and/or Muslim. One of these is Izzy Montague, a mother who was left with no option but to remove her five-year-old son from the school when Papas and her staff repeatedly refused to meet Montague and discuss her concerns.

Since it is only a matter of time before the Irish government introduces similar RSE materials, parents in Ireland would be well advised to familiarise themselves with what is currently being used in the UK. RSE Review lists the major vested-interest groups in the UK, the inappropriate materials being used and links to these actual resources.