Socialist Worker

Dorries bill would replace sex education for girls with abstinence

by Siobhan Hawthorne
Issue No. 2286

Tory MP Nadine Dorries’s private members’ bill on sex education was due to have its second reading this Friday.

If passed it will require schools to provide abstinence sex education to girls—and only girls—aged between 13 and 16.

Shockingly Dorries said, “If a stronger ‘just say no’ message was given to children, there might be an impact on sex abuse.”

The bill is unlikely to become law. It flies in the face of all the evidence of what works in preventing teenage pregnancy and promoting good sexual health.

But the fact that it was not immediately laughed out of parliament is cause for concern.

Leaving aside its sexism, abstinence education has proved totally unsuccessful in the US where it has been tried extensively.

Young people who only had abstinence based education were more likely to become pregnant or contract a sexually transmitted infection, a US study showed.

But it’s not just a handful of backbenchers who are attracted to these ideas.

The government has appointed anti-abortion, pro-abstinence group Life onto its advisory sexual health forum.

Life has no experience in providing sexual health services but is taking the place of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service.

Life is also on education minister Michael Gove’s new Sex and Relationships Council, alongside Christian pro-abstinence group The Silver Ring Thing.

Gove’s proposed funding arrangements for academies and free schools require them to promote marriage, as opposed to “marriage and stable relationships”.

Unmarried? Gay? Single parent? Your children will be taught that their home lives are inferior.

This is part of a wider attack on young people.

It undermines their right to get the information they need to make their own decisions about when, how and with who they start their sexual lives.

Siobhan Hawthorne works in teenage pregnancy and sexual health for a local authority.

Demonstrate outside parliament on Friday 20 January, 10.30am-12.30pm.www.abortionrights.org.uk


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