"Unbiased sex education is a child's right: Allowing faith schools to skew the curriculum in order to argue against homosexuality and sex before marriage is a mistake"
At the outset I should say that my position is that the decision on how a child should be educated belongs to the child's parents - not the state. As such, how British state schools educate their children is none of my business - I don't have any children there. Unlike Mr. Copson, I don't presume to dictate that each and every child in the nation should be educated according to my views, whether their parents like it or not. But having said that, here we go...
"No parent or school should be able to prevent a young person receiving good, high-quality sex and relationship education."Starting off with the assumption that there is an uncontroversial definition of a "high quality sex and relationship education" is not a good beginning. Of course, I definitely agree with the statement above; every young person should be being taught all that the Bible says about sex and relationships, and shown from a Biblical viewpoint why alternatives are mistaken. That means, showing how we're made in God's image and are accountable for him; how sex is his precious gift; how he gave a binding pattern on us regarding how it is to be used, etcetera. Fine. But the note of autonomy in the sentence is not fine. Actually a parent should be able to decide what a young person is or isn't taught. A genuine free-for-all isn't possible. If parents don't do it, the role must go to someone else... and note that the sentence doesn't include the word "government". Government forbidding young people from hearing the "high-quality" (i.e. Biblical!) view is what I am worried about - especially campaigning humanists via government enforcing their views on our children. The above sentence sounds like a typical humanist.
I just said that.
Typical, some would say, of the view of humanists and others ...
who believe that sex and relationships education should be an entitlement for all our children, and are often accused as a consequence of riding roughshod over the rights of some religious parents and the "rights" of religious schools.Um, no. I never met a parent who didn't believe that "our children" should receive "sex and relationships education" as part of their entitlement from their parents. What we didn't believe, though, was that it was our children's right to receive a humanist indoctrination of their view of sex, at our expense, and despite our protests. That's the bit where the "riding roughshod over the rights" comes in. Surely Mr. Copson can't be so dim as to not know the difference between those two things?
Poor kid. Looks like the humanists and secularists got him early. Or perhaps it was just bad parenting.
But this is not the voice of your stock strident secularist, but a 16-year-old
, speaking as a representative of the Youth Parliament today.
Well, that explains his case. Bodies of that ilk are stuffed full of the young gullible primed to say what the adults want them to. That's their purpose. Ever read a news story in which that kind of youth body didn't parrot what their funders didn't want them to say? I haven't come across one yet.
Young people themselves are some of the strongest supporters of sex and relationships education, and recognise that it will improve their ability to deal with the emotional, moral and practical difficulties of adolescent and adult life.
That's an excellent argument against what Mr. Copson wants. If young people support it more strongly that those who are older, wiser and more experienced than them, then perhaps it's a bad idea? When I was at school, lots of us also thought that French tests, chemistry exams and homework were really bad ideas - very nasty of those adults not to listen to us. Where was the Youth Parliament when we needed them then, eh?
But again, in fact nobody I ever knew of objects to the idea in the line above. "Sex and relationships education" is fine. It's when that education comes from a humanist standpoint we have a problem. Notice again how Mr. Copson, as most of the liberalisers of society in recent decades do, simply announces his position as the objective, neutral one and takes it from there ... and instead of interacting with counter-arguments, instead just smears anyone who disagrees with him as irrational or too far off the scale to be worth his time.
The Youth Parliament has been a key leader in the drive for compulsory sex and relationships education
Of course it has. That's why those of Mr. Copson's ilk set up and fund such bodies - because the self-selecting participants can be relied upon to support his agenda. Are we meant to be fooled? Sorry.
, and has called not just for all state schools – including religious schools – to be legally obliged to teach it, but for parents not to be able to opt their children out of it.
That must be why the Bible says that "folly is bound up in the heart of a child". What's the argument here - adults should roll over and grant whatever "youths" want them to? ounds like some of these youth parliamentarians went short of a smack or two when they were growing up. Whoops, did I say that out loud? What I meant to say was to point out that Mr. Copson hasn't yet owned up to the point that the "it" that he wants everybody else's children to be indoctrinated with is not "sex education" per se, but particularly humanist sex education. Crucial omission!
It's not a surprise that young people want this education.
That hasn't been established yet. All we've established so far is that the "Youth Parliament" said so. But even if it was established, so what? My children want ice creams and no school every day. But they've already learnt, unlike Mr. Copson who's apparently an adult, that what children want ranks some way down the list of priorities - a fact whose importance and rightness will grow upon them year by year; especially in the years when they themselves become parents!
We know that the sexual health and wellbeing of young people is improved by sex and relationships education.
If you mean "humanist sex education", then no; you couldn't possibly know that. If you knew, you'd know that humanist education displeases God, and means his wrath burns fiercely against you. That's the God who said that it would be better for you to have a millstone tied to your neck and for you to be thrown into the midst of the sea rather than for you to teach one of the little ones to stumble. Fornication and other perversions do not lead to "health and wellbeing"; they lead to judgment. That of course raises the question - what is the yardstick of "sexual health and wellbeing" that Mr. Copson uses to measure the results of his humanist education? Oh - it's a humanist one. Things like whether lifelong committed monogamy and stable one-man-one-woman families result, isn't part of his measuring method. So what he's telling us is that humanist education brings good results, as long as those results are measured using humanist assumptions. That's not really a big deal. The big deal is he actually wants to force this on everyone and not just people who think like he does.
We also know that teaching only abstinence in schools has no effect on the likelihood of teenagers to have sex (they are just as likely to do so – it simply means they are less able to take the proper precautions and negotiate complex relationships).
No, you don't know that; you just know that when that teaching is not effective done in schools where the context is totally divorced from a Christian worldview in the school and family. A thin bit of abstinence icing on a secular cake still poisons the person who eats it; a Biblical Christian would never expect otherwise. A worldview has to be built from the ground up. Am I saying that all state schools must adopt the Christian worldview, without compromise? Obviously that's a non-starter... we've got to start somewhere else before we can even begin that conversation. That means God-sent revival; short of that, everything's a patch-up job. Some of those patch-up jobs will be OKish in their results; others will be like what Mr. Copson describes.
What Mr. Copson says, though, is at heart nonsense. If teaching abstinence has no effect on abstinence, why does he believe that teaching "proper precautions" will lead to anyone taking "proper precautions"? If he thinks what is taught in sex education has no effect, then that undermines the whole point of his piece, which is to influence what is taught in sex education!
I was taught that sex belonged in marriage. I've never been involved in sex outside of my marriage, and the reason is because I believed that what was taught was true. So how can this humanist say that what is taught has no effect? It's self-refuting nonsense.
Young people have a right to expect that we as a community will provide it for them
Note that for humanist activists like Mr. Copson, the "rights" always belong to the individual (to be able to escape any non-humanist convictions of his parents) and the duties to the "community", which is a code-word for "humanist-dominated government" (the right being, to over-ride the wishes of those pesky parents again). Note that the parents never seem to be ending up with any of these rights.
Who exactly is this "we"? "We", the British Humanist Association and those who think the same as we do? You can be sure it doesn't include those upholding the historic Christian position. We have the right to shut up and hand our children over for indoctrination from secularists like Mr. Copson!
– and when we say that young people have a right to such education this is in fact literally true. As Article 13 of the convention on the rights of the child says,
That's cute. The UN's human rights convention is Holy Scripture after all. Its teachings are all to be taken as literal truth. Remember that this article is titled "unbiased sex education is a child's right". Nobody can argue with this kind of logic. The humanist position must be true, because the UN endorsed it - anyone else is evil or mad. We crazed religious fundamentalists who think that the holy text we should all obey is one slightly more tried-and-tested than the output of the UN (not yet 100 years old!) must hand over our children to those who have seen the true light. Welcome to 1984!
"The child shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers … "
Does this mean a child have the right to seek, receive and impart information and ideas about necrophilia? Satanism? The contents of the governments secret files? I would have thought it obvious that nobody would mean this statement to be interpreted in an absolute way. Mr. Copson really does seems to be an extreme religious literalist; are my children safe in his hands?
What is this about, though? Mr. Copson hasn't yet told us just what it is that he's worried that the non-humanists won't teach their children. The Bible's got plenty of sex in it - nobody who reads it will miss out if that's their aim. What's your beef?
In the face of overwhelming evidence that sex and relationships education improves the lives of young people, what right do we have to deny them it?
Sadly this overwhelming evidence hasn't been paraded. But, let's put the boot on the other foot. It's an overwhelmingly proven fact that people who attend regular religious worship are shown, in survey after survey, on average to be happier, more settled, healthier, and many other things. So, what right do we have to inflict humanist teaching on children when it's proven to be so damaging?
I do wonder though what planet Mr. Copson is living on. We live in a time of immense sexual anarchy and misery. The victims of the sexual revolution have overwhelmingly been children - children who grow up without a father (or with two!), with all the flood-tide of evil effects that has had on our society. That is, if those children aren't simply murdered in the womb because their mother was taught it was her "right" to do so. The other major victims are women, who are exploited on a scale unimaginable to our grandparents' generation. Womanhood has been publicly sexualised in an appalling crude way in the last 40 years, such that hardly a pre-teen escapes the strong pressure to conform to the mould. If all of this is a state of improvement, I'd hate to see a wholesale disaster when one comes along.
If we know that sex and relationships education of an objective sort improves young people's health and wellbeing (and we do)
Typical liberal propaganda - it's necessary to assert that your case is proven 10 times, without actually proving that even the first time. And what's this word "objective"? Same old story - his position is objective, bias-free, public truth to be shovelled down everybody's throats; yours, should you disagree, of course, is private nonsense that the government should protect your children from!
and if we accept that it is the right of the child to receive information of all sorts (which it is)
'Cos the UN says so!
and if we go on to conclude that the responsibility of society is therefore to ensure that all our children receive this entitlement, then why allow state-funded religious schools to do something different?
Because, dear Mr. Copson, a society in which one minority group foists its views by force of law on all others, including the foisting controversial views on highly personal matters such as sex on pain of state sanctions, against the wishes of parents, is a fascist society. When the state decides that it is God, that a humanist point of view is neutral, objective, public truth, and that parents who think otherwise should have their rights withdrawn, then what you have is an atheist hell-hole. Like the USSR, Albania, Cambodia, and all those other houses of misery that the 20th century was littered with. The places that liberals like Mr. Copson didn't decide to go and live in because they preferred them to the society that had been built on Christian foundations that they lived in in the UK - the one where there was freedom to differ from the state, a freedom that campaigners of Mr. Copson's ilk have taken such advantage of other the last half-century.
Because my good fellow, the right to educate children belongs to parents to do as they see fit. When you speak of "state-funded", you forget that it's not actually the case that Mr. Brown and Mr. Darling dip into their pockets and we live at their expense. The states funds come from... the very same parents who send their children to the state schools. And it is not the wish of the parents paying for their own children's education that their children, who choose to send their parents to a religious school, that there they should receive a humanist indoctrination. The overwhelming majority of people in the UK who pay for state education are not humanists. The question really is why Mr. Copson can't seem his own totalitarian and the illogical nature of his own ramblings: if the UK is a democracy, why should a minority view such as his be enforced by law at the expense of the majority who reject it?
Why in particular, as has been announced today, should the religious character of a school (which may or may not be shared by the school's pupils or their parents) be allowed to skew the sex and relationships education that children receive?
In PSHE, as in RE, pupils should have the opportunity to learn about and engage with a range of different perspectives on relationships. Many different views do exist in society and sex and relationships education should engage them – as it does. But above all else, we need to be honest with young people, not withhold from them knowledge of the full range of human sexuality that does exist in reality, which they will encounter and engage with in the world outside school and which they need to be prepared for.
This is a straw man. We will teach our children to interact with the full range of views - in due time, and from a Christian viewpoint. What we won't do, though, is pretend that we think all views are equal or relative, or that we think the child choosing his own view (which they all will do) is such an enormous gain that it outweights the evil of choosing a wrong view. Mr. Copson really is asking for more humanist indoctrination. Teaching all views with an air of laid-back indifference is nothing other than teaching humanism: that man is his own god and may pick whatever way seems right to him. Mr. Copson really wants his view to be taught as unquestionable dogma to everyone. Whatever else he'd like taught, nobody can question the supremacy of man and his right to choose!
In sex and relationships education, more than in any other area, we must place the child – not our own prejudices – firmly at the centre of our thinking.
You mean you're taking everything you've said so far back! Great!
Oh, you don't mean that. You just mean that you're pretending that your own prejudices are something else. You're simply too dishonest to allow a level playing field, allow your humanist assumptions to be put under the microscope, whilst you claim the right to have everybody else's assumptions ruled out of court. And you're going to try to pull your scam in the name of our children! No thanks!
Young people want this education, they need it, it is their right to have it, and if we withhold it from them on grounds of our own ideologies, we will only be doing harm.