BY ED WEST
PARENTS in Southwark are protesting against Churchapproved sex education material for nine to 11-year-olds that includes sexually explicit diagrams.
The All That I Am document, which has been in use in Birmingham since 2001, has now been introduced in Southwark archdiocese, causing outrage among some parents.
The document was funded by the Government’s Teenage Pregnancy Unit, set up to reduce Britain’s high rate of teenage pregnancy.
It comes with an endorsement from Archbishop Vin cent Nichols of Birmingham, now Archbishop of Westminster, on the front, and a foreword by the Archbishop. The material, which includes a diagram of male genitalia, is to be shown to children aged 9 to 11, both in single and mixed classes.
Dr Josephine Treloar, a mother in the diocese, claimed that many of the parents in the school her child attends were unhappy with the material but lacked the confidence to speak up about it. The school has told parents that they ought to accept it as it is recommended by both Archbishop Kevin McDonald of Southwark and Archbishop Nichols.
Last month she and her husband wrote to Archbishop McDonald to tell him of their concerns, but received assurance from his secretary that All That I Am was indeed recommended by the diocese.
Dr Treloar told the Herald that parents were briefed about the material before it was introduced into classes.
“Some parents thought it must be OK, because ‘the Church’ has allowed it. We see the same problem being repeated in our own diocese.
“Schools may well wish to help parents to do this task with their children, but to use this sort of material and do it without them is quite wrong and very destructive. It needs to be withdrawn.” Antonia Tully of the campaign group Safe at School, which is run by the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), said that she had recently received many phone calls from parents disturbed by what their children were being shown.
Mrs Tully said it was of particular concern because of plans to increase sex education in schools. “The Government is planning to legislate in the autumn for five-year-olds to be taught sex education,” she said.
“Because they can see they are falling short on their strategy [to reduce teenage pregnancy], their answer is to have more sex education.”