On 20 January 2012, Nadine Dorries’ proposed amendment to sex education, Bill 185, which suggests GIRLS be taught abstinence, is due to get a second reading in parliament.
The bill is sexist as it positions girls as being solely responsible for decisions about sexual activity and boys as having no responsibility for ensuring that sex is mutually wanted, fully consenting and safe. Dorries even said that teaching children to ‘say no’ could reduce child abuse. This victim blaming is dangerous, incorrect, and offensive to survivors of abuse.
Abstinence education on its own is ineffective in reducing teenage pregnancies and STI rates. Good quality comprehensive Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) should already explicitly address the option of abstinence as part of decision-making about sex, and safer sex.
SRE should be informative and fact based. Some of the most important bits of SRE, which really helps young people to take responsibility for themselves and make healthy decisions (namely the relationships and communication aspects), are optional for schools and this bill will not change that. If this bill passes, some schools could end up only teaching the biology of reproduction and STIs (within the science curriculum) plus abstinence.
If Dorries really wanted to help young women to stay safe and healthy she would be advocating for statutory, comprehensive sex and relationships education for all young people, of all genders, and in all schools whether they are faith schools, academies, free schools or community schools. Her party in Government has already stated that they have no intention of making SRE statutory.
- Debate in parliament at first reading: http://
www.theyworkforyou.com/ debates/ ?id=2011-05-04b.680.0
- Guardian article, ‘Nadine Dorries and sex education for girls’: http://www.guardian.co.uk/
lifeandstyle/ the-womens-blog-with-jane-m artinson/2011/may/04/ nadine-dorries-sex-educatio n-lessons
- Guardian article, ‘Stop this anti-sex drive’: http://www.guardian.co.uk/
commentisfree/2011/nov/16/ anti-sex-drive-nadine-dorri es
- YouTube video: Critique and interview of Rick Perry, governor of Texas, who introduced abstinence only education into 94% of state schools, with the result of Texas becoming the highest teen pregnancy state. http://www.youtube.com/
- Check how your MP voted in the first reading: http://bit.ly/sexedbill185
- What is currently taught in UK schools: http://www.bbc.co.uk/