Porn, sexting and transgender issues in classrooms - what do you think?

Should porn, sexting, transgender issues and staying safe online be discussed with schoolchildren in classrooms?

That is the question ministers are asking parents, young people and campaign groups in an eight-week consultation on the new sex and relationship education guidance launched today. The current guidelines have not been updated since the year 2000 and the calls for change are likely to provoke a strong reaction from Christian groups.

PixabayShould young children be taught about porn, sexting and transgender issues or should that be left to parents?

Thomas Pascoe, campaign director of the Coalition for Marriage, outlined the concern of many conservative Christian groups, claiming compulsory sex education would only lead to more young people involved in sexual acts.

He said: 'Under these proposals, the leading agent in the early sexualisation of children would be the state itself.

'We should be teaching young children broad values of respect and tolerance, not ordering them to accept adult sexual relationships which they are far too young to understand.'

It comes after the Department for Education announced that sex and relationships education (SRE) would be compulsory in all English schools, but education secretary Justine Greening warned the guidance was out of date.

'It is unacceptable that relationships and sex education guidance has not been updated for almost 20 years, especially given the online risks — such as sexting and cyber-bullying — our children and young people face,' she said.

'Young people must have an education that teaches them the importance of healthy and stable relationships.

'This call for evidence is about giving teachers, parents and especially young people a chance to help shape that new approach and I'd urge them to take part.'

Welcoming an update, Ruth Hunt, chief executive of campaign group Stonewall, said: 'The current guidance, published 17 years ago, contains no mention of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people.

'Schools that teach LGBT-inclusive RSE are in the minority, leaving many LGBT young people without the information they need to make safe, informed decisions.

'Just 13 per cent of LGBT young people have learnt about healthy same-sex relationships.'

But Andrew Williams, chief executive of the lobby group Christian Concern, said the government was creating 'a highly sexualised culture that is not healthy for our children and young people' and SRE would not help.

'We are now living with the devastating consequences of that,' she said.

'There is no "age-appropriate" way to teach primary school children about sexual relationships. Nor should primary school children be taught about homosexual relationships or transgenderism as they are too young to engage with such concepts.

'Sex and relationships education cannot be taught in a moral vacuum,' she added, saying heterosexual marriage should be held as the 'gold standard' of relationships with faith schools free to teach SRE according to their religion.

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