MPs will debate a controversial bill [today] calling for teenage girls to be given lessons in sexual abstinence.
The bill, proposed by Nadine Dorries, the Conservative MP for Mid Bedfordshire, would require schools to offer extra sex education classes to girls aged 13 to 16 and for these lessons to include advice on “the benefits of abstinence”.
The bill has elicited considerable criticism from politicians in all three of the main political parties.
Dan Rogerson, co-chair of the Lib Dems education and family backbench committee and an MP for North Cornwall, said the bill would result in girls being given a “dire warning about their future prospects”.
“To single out girls is at best unhelpful and at worst damaging,” he said. He said boys and girls needed to be given high quality advice on all aspects of relationships.
Niki Molnar, chairman of Conservative Women, which has at least 4,000 members, said boys needed to be included in classes on sex and relationships to ensure that they learned to respect women.
The British Humanist Association (BHA) said the bill had so far been supported predominantly by socially conservative Christians and had little chance of succeeding.
However, Naomi Phillips, head of public affairs at the BHA, said it was “yet another attempt by a lobby on the religious right to promote and impose on others, a narrow, unshared and potentially damaging perspective regarding sex, sexual health and abortion rights”.
“All children and young people have a right to high quality, comprehensive and objective sex and relationships education in all schools, including ‘faith’ schools, which would and should equip young people – both boys and girls – with the information and skills to say no to sexual activity if that is what they choose.”
Dorries has also campaigned to reduce the time during a pregnancy when an abortion can take place from 24 to 21 weeks.
Darinka Aleksic, campaign co-ordinator for Abortion Rights, said the bill served to further Dorries’ “moral agenda, which involves restricting abortion and teaching teenage girls that they, unlike boys, must save themselves for marriage”.
Full article here.