Point 20 of the RSE guidelines states that:
“the religious background of all pupils must be taken into account when planning teaching, so that topics that are included in the core content in this guidance are appropriately handled. Therefore, all schools must ensure they comply with the relevant provisions of the Equality Act 2010, under which religion or belief are amongst the protected characteristics”.
It is thus clear that schools must consider the religious views ad concerns of parents when teaching RSE topics. Religion is a protected characteristic under the 2010 Equality Act and as Muslims, Chrstians, Jews etc we have the right to have our views heard and respected alongside other protected groups. We should not be afraid to voice our religious views as long as we do so in a way that is not discriminatory. It is essential that parents become active in schools and engage in debate, highlighting their religious views and asking how the school will take any concerns they may have into account.
In point 21 of the final RSE guidelines is clearly states that:
“all schools may teach about faith perspectives” on RSE.
There is no obligation for schools to do so, however the government has stated that they can. Again, it is therefore essential that parents from religious backgrounds consult with the school on this point and ensure that their faith perspectives on RSE topics are taught alongside any other perspective. For example, if teaching children about parts of the body, including the private parts – you can explain if you are a Muslim parent, that in Islam we teach children about modesty and not to look at the naked bodies – especially the private parts – of others. Ask the school to use resources that respect this and to teach the girls and boys in separate groups to help further protect the child’s natural sense of modesty.
Faith schools will have to teach RSE, however the RSE guidelines states that they can teach their “distinct faith perspective on relationships, and balanced debate may take place about issues that are seen as contentious”. However, all teaching must reflect the UK law, including the 2010 Equality Act as it applies to relationships. For example, the government has stated that LGBT issues must be taught – faiths school therefore will have to teach about LGBT issues and that UK law allows two people of the same sex to marry; however alongside that, they can teach the Islamic position on marriage and homosexuality, as long as they can demonstrate “balanced debate” and are not discriminatory towards LGBT people.