While Muslim parents’ protests were widely covered by the media, there’s another, highly-organised opposition movement – from the Christian right.
In Poland, a bill in parliament threatens sex educators with prison sentences. Across Latin America, ultra-conservatives are mobilising under the banner: ‘don’t mess with my kids’. And in the UK, new campaigns and legal challenges have been launched against LGBTIQ inclusive education.
While Muslim parents’ protests in Birmingham received mass media coverage earlier this year, an openDemocracy undercover reporter attended an event in London this summer that showcased another, highly organised opposition movement against the government’s new sex and relationships curriculum.
Last year, the premier of Ontario, Canada, replaced his province’s modern sex education curriculum with a 1998 version. After protests by parents, teachers and students, a new 2019 curriculum was unveiled last month.
But Frederique Chabot from Action Canada for Sexual Health Rights told openDemocracy it was “a bittersweet victory”. References to gender identity and sexuality were removed from the curriculum, for younger students. Now, similar sex education battles are playing out in other Canadian provinces.
Liz Stuart, president of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association said that opposition to sex education is “often based on misleading information or outright fallacies”, while students need to learn to “navigate their relationships, and protect themselves from dangerous situations”.
Internationally, Herat at UNESCO also described the use of misinformation by opposition campaigns that are “designed to create fear among parents”.
In the UK, another recently-launched campaign, the RSE School Gate Campaign, has handed out leaflets outside schools including alarmist claims that infants will be “encouraged to masturbate” under the new curriculum.