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Fury over sex education for 8-year-olds in Tower Hamlets schools

PUBLISHED: 07:01 29 June 2011

Mohammed Goni and his petition

Mohammed Goni and his petition

Angry parents are demanding sex education be scrapped in primary schools where they say children as young as eight are being "primed for sex" by being made to watch explicit DVDs.

They already withdraw their youngsters from ‘sex and relationship’ lessons on cultural and religious grounds.

But protesters in East London claim at least two Tower Hamlets schools are using the same education material in science lessons instead, as part of the National Curriculum which is compulsory.

They hold a public meeting at the East London Mosque in Whitechapel tonight over claims that their rights as parents are being sidelined.

This follows a petition signed by hundreds of parents at Clara Grant Primary in Bromley-by-Bow, objecting to sex education in the classroom.

Father-of-three Mohammed Gomi, who organised it, has now written to his local MP.

“My children are being taught about sex in an inappropriate way,” he told the East London Advertiser.

“I am being denied the right to withdraw my children from lessons which are unacceptable to me.”

The row is over a Channel 4 ‘Living and Growing’ teaching resource DVD containing graphic illustrations of human reproduction—used for non-compulsory ‘sex and relationship’ education—being included in science biology instead.

Explicit material includes an animation of human sexual intercourse in different positions, the parents point out.

“Showing this kind of explicit material to young children amounts to sexual abuse,” Mr Gomi added. “This situation is totally unacceptable.”

Mr Gomi, 47, drew up the petition after first writing to head teacher Susan Ward, the chair of governors and Tower Hamlets Children’s Services director, but claimed they brushed aside his argument.

The school referred the Advertiser’s inquiries to the Town Hall, which said no-one was available for interview, issuing a statement instead.

“Schools have a statutory obligation to teach the National Curriculum and parents have no right to withdraw their child from nationally-approved science lessons,” said the council statement.

“But where a school is using non-statutory ‘sex and relationship’ materials in a science lesson, the parental right to withdraw their child remains.”

The parents have won backing from the ‘Safe at School’ national campaign which has been boosted by a Government U-turn earlier this year on attempts to make sex education compulsory in primary schools.

The organisation has joined forces with SRE Islamic to stage tonight’s 7pm public meeting at the East London mosque.

Its coordinator Antonia Tully, a mum-of-six who is addressing the meeting, said: “Sex education is deliberately being transferred to other parts of the curriculum to sideline parents who are objecting.

“It is priming young children for sex, breaking down the natural protective reservation towards a very adult issue.

“Explicit sex education is not a subject for young children—it facilitates sex and abortion as a ‘safety’ net.”

The 1996 Education Act, she points out, says formal sex education is not mandatory in primary schools.

The Minister for Schools, Nick Gibb, responded to a Parliamentary Question last week that guidelines were to protect pupils from inappropriate material, having regard to the age and religious and cultural background of those pupils concerned.

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