Editorial: Parents should pay attention to the direction of sex education in Northern Ireland

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​​News Letter on Thursday June 8 2023:

On Monday May 29, we ran an essay about the triumph of woke extremism in key cultural areas in the UK (see link below). The author, Dr Matt Goodwin, comes at such issues from a left wing perspective, yet expresses views that once would have been seen as conservative. He wrote: "... Many of our schools have turned into the Wild West, bringing in outside campaigners and organisations which are not regulated, which teach children how to choke their partners during sex, which urge them to choose one of 72 different genders and then refuse to even show parents the materials they are using ..."

The horrifyingly inappropriate teaching to which Dr Goodwin has referred has not been as apparent in Northern Ireland. But there is nonetheless a determined push to introduce supposedly progressive approaches to sex education in NI. The Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris has ordered a change to rules on relationships and sex education for schools. Teachers and parents need to pay attention to where this going.

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The education will tell adolescents how to prevent a pregnancy and how to access an abortion. Schools cannot be expected to pretend that the law on terminations has not changed, but this is tricky territory. The churches are right to be alarmed about the lack of time for consultation on something so sensitive.

And anyone who has been watching events will be deeply concerned at this government playing any role in such decisions. Dr Goodwin pointed out how the Conservatives had not defended conservative principles, and instead allowed contentious social issues "to be repackaged as toxic 'culture wars'".

This has been very evident in NI. Both Brand Lewis and Chris Heaton-Harris talked of abortion in terms of women's rights, instead of as a complex moral maze in which the rights of women and the unborn are often in conflict.

Abortion was almost gleefully introduced as an implied punishment for the unionist role in Stormont being down, yet no Tory pressure was ever applied to Sinn Fein's collapse of the assembly. On the contrary it was rewarded with an Irish language act.