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Sex Education SRE Consultation: Last chance to make a difference

Click to hear a BBC Asian Network debate featuring on the topic:

The consultation deadline is 11:45 pm 12th February 2018, and can be participated in by visiting here: https://consult.education.gov.uk/life-skills/pshe-rse-call-for-evidence/consultation/intro/

For guidance documents prepared to help people click here, here and here

Who is responsible for raising your children?

Though the answer may seem obvious, it is one we take for granted. For this reason it is imperative we emphatically and unequivocally establish the answer to this question.

The Messenger of Allāh (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) described the Muslim parenting role as akin to a shepherd tending to his flock; just as a shepherd is mindful of the dangers to the lives of his flock, so too is a parent tasked with ensuring that their children are safe from known dangers.

The Messenger of Allāh (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said,

“Each one of you is a shepherd and each one of you will be asked about his flock.”[1]

We, as parents, are tasked with:

  • Responsibility: We carry the greatest task of raising upright children who will glorify, worship and obey our Rabb (Lord, Sustainer and Master).
  • Accountability before your Rabb: With such a great responsibility comes accountability. In life we are accountable to a good many number of people but accountability to our Rabb is the greatest that exists. The realisation that each one of us will stand before our Rabb is a frightening one, but it has no real value unless it spurs us to raise our children and meet the many challenges they face towards their ultimate goal.

Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) calls us, in our capacity as parents, to the most noble of endeavours, a path that safeguards our children from an unparalleled danger.

“Oh you who believe, save yourselves and your families from a fire, whose fuel is men and stones.”[2]

When we consider safeguarding our families, protection from the eternal fire of Jahannam is the greatest danger to protect them from. What we do to achieve this is something we will be asked about. What we will be held to account on is not where our children end up, because that is in Allāh’s hands, but what we did to direct, support and nurture them to their end goal.  What we did or did not do will be up for scrutiny on the day of accountability (Yawm al-Ḥisāb).

Just as a shepherd has to protect his flock from being devoured by wolves, there are many ‘wolves’ to protect your children from.  They may not have sharp teeth and a fierce snarl, but their danger is ever present.

And when we look at dangers in general, we often focus on physical threats such as protecting our children from being run over by moving traffic. We respond to that danger by modelling to our children how to safely cross the road, we remind them to cross roads with care and we continually reinforce the message.  Whilst we take all these precautions, the immediacy of said danger is ever-present in our minds.

When we read about a child abduction, it reinforces in our mind a danger that is not as common as we might think. It is a powerful fear that drives us to protect our children; we ferry them to and from school, we remind them to remain vigilant at all times and if we become aware of dangerous behaviours in them or those around them, we are sure to raise it with them.

We often focus on physical threats, because we feel their immediacy, but there are other threats we dismiss or neglect to consider as immediate. An example of this is in the dangerous ideas and behaviours our children are daily subjected to, which seek to shape their values and blur their criterion of what is normal. We fail to treat the very real threat to our values with the same level of concern.

Whenever I speak to people from other communities they talk enviously of how the Muslim community have held on to their values whilst others have abandoned them.  They talk about how the family structure is relatively intact.  Yet are we doing enough to protect what others prize?

As Muslims we believe that marriage is the cornerstone of family life. In the words of our beloved Messenger (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam), it is the completion of half one’s Dīn. For us, the structure of family is built upon the marriage between men and women. For children it is the only source of stability in a chaotic world, and yet, the media and entertainment industries undermine marriage everyday by reshaping our view of sexual relationships as fleeting encounters.

Politicians may talk about the importance of marriage and family on the one hand but they undermine it on the other.[i]

Under the guise of “equality”, the government undermines marriage through laws to normalise homosexual relationships. Governments of all colours have taken away more and more rights from parents and placed them in the hands of the state.[3]

And most recently, the government has utilised the education system to push the views of lobbies[4] representing the interests of fringe groups.[5] These groups want children to believe that male and female are fluid,[6] and not biological facts, and that being raised by two mums or two dads is the same as or even better than being nurtured by their biological mother and father. The agenda has clear ideological motives but has gained widespread acceptance by claiming they are necessary to ensure ‘safeguarding’ and ‘child protection’.  When gay marriage was legalised, it was predicted that schools would be the first arena in which this new agenda would be played out, this was rubbished at the time, but it is very clear this has come to pass.[7]

After years of assurances that it would not make the teaching of SRE statutory, the government has capitulated to Stonewall, and other likeminded groups. Sneaking it through the latest stage possible in the Children and Social Work bill in March last year — which achieved royal assent (became an Act of Parliament) in April — they have made Sex and Relationship Education into a statutory subject in all schools.

It is very important to emphasise that the changes to SRE, outlined below, apply to all schools. That is, state schools, faith schools, academies as well as independent schools.

In all Secondary schools RSE (Relationships and Sex Education) will be made statutory, including faith and independent schools. The right to withdraw will remain but the government is re-writing what was once the parental right to withdraw, to take into account the consent of children. It is unclear how this will work in practice and whether children of a particular age will have the right to consent or not, over and above parental wishes.  Nonetheless what we have heard so far suggests the parental right to withdraw will likely change.

All Primary schools will introduce a new subject, Relationships Education (RE). The concern is that there will be no right to withdraw, unless a school decides to teach SRE outside of an RE lesson.  Taking the sex out of SRE is meant to allay parental fears. A name change cannot assuage concerns that schools will sneak ideologically-motivated elements concerning sex and sexuality into RE just as some include sexual content into statutory science to bypass the parental right to withdraw. It is also clear that the very same justifications for making the subject statutory – the proliferation of porn and sexting as a phenomenon – will be the excuses for introducing greater sexual content into the minds of pre-pubescent children

When some parents are told that SRE will prepare their children for modern dangers such as pornography, they will rightly assume their children will be taught that pornography is exploitative and demeaning, providing a skewed understand of sexuality. Whereas the very opposite is the case. Materials currently being used in schools and endorsed by the Sex Education Forum encourage teachers to discuss pornography in a non-judgmental way, such that teachers should say “not all pornography is bad,”[8] and can be enjoyed as long as porn is not mistaken for real life

Our children live in a highly sexualised society, where sexual issues are discussed everywhere besides the home. This has to change. We must start connecting our Islamic values with these vital subject matters.  But this has to be on our own terms, informed by our noble objectives in life. If we cannot do this ourselves, as parents, or create avenues for these discussions in our community, we will either lose our next generation and every subsequent one or their values will be so skewed that the last vestige of stability, the family, will be decimated. InshāAllāh we will discuss what we can do as parents to discuss these issues in subsequent articles.

Action Points

  1. Respond to the consultation by 11:45pm on 12th February 2018. Guidance documents to help you respond are available on sreislamic.org
  2. Attend one of the many events across the country, details are on sreislamic.org
  3. Help us spread the message today: Invite others to attend these events and to respond to this consultation.

Source: www.islam21c.com

Notes:

[1] Agreed upon

[2] Al-Qur’ān, 66:6

[3] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-39116783

[4] https://www.pshe-association.org.uk/news/stonewall-2017-school-report-recommends-statutory

[5] http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2017/12/19/government-consults-over-plans-for-mandatory-lgbt-inclusive-sex-ed-in-schools/

[6] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/transgender-policies-school-gender-identity-neutral-toilets-waste-of-time-money-dr-joanna-williams-a7805511.html

[7] https://www.theguardian.com/education/2017/sep/06/secondary-school-makes-uniform-gender-neutral

[8] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/10019617/School-pupils-should-be-taught-not-all-porn-is-bad-advise-experts.html

[i] https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2013/jun/03/archbishop-canterbury-gay-marriage-bill

About Yusuf Patel

Yusuf Patel is the founder of SREIslamic, which provides advice, support and training to parents concerned with how Sex and Relationship Education (SRE) is taught in schools, particularly at the primary level. SRE Islamic has conducted hundreds of seminars across the country since it was founded in 2008 in order to inform Muslim parents of their legal rights in the area of SRE as well as running workshops covering the responsibility of Muslim parents to impart age appropriate sex education in line with their values. Yusuf is the Beneficiary Support Manager at the charity, HHUGS, that supports families impacted by anti-terror legislation.

One comment

  1. Very important, thanks for sharing.

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