Sex, faith and Mr Balls

By Simon Rocker
February 26, 2010

Schools Secretary Ed Balls may have come under fire this week for making too many concessions to faith schools over sex education.

But the reality is, it doesn't seem all that clear precisely how the national guidelines will play out in the classroom.

While religious schools will not be able to opt out of requirements to teach "sex and relationships education", they will be able to present it according to their own religious values. However, Mr Balls stressed, they will not be able to teach their views of their own faith alone.

In a BBC radio interview, he explained: "A Catholic faith school can say to their pupils we believe as a religion, contraception is wrong but what they can't do is therefore say that they are not going to teach them about contraception and how to access contraception. What this changes is that, for the first time, these schools cannot just ignore these issues or teach only one side of the argument. They also have to teach there are different views on homosexuality. They cannot teach homophobia. They must explain civil partnerships."

Somehow, I can't see the girls of Yesodey Hatorah learning how to unroll a condom or exploring the liturgy for same-sex blessings in Liberal synagogues.

The Jewish Tribune report of the story didn't even mention the word "sex", instead referring to the teaching of "delicate issues".


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