Westminster Life: Sex education document should be withdrawn

Paul Bristow says the city council should withdraw this document from schoolsPaul Bristow says the city council should withdraw this document from schools
Paul Bristow says the city council should withdraw this document from schools
During the course of being Peterborough’s MP a number of local residents and parents have raised concerns with me about Relationships, Health and Sex Education (RHSE) in school classrooms, writes Peterborough MP Paul Bristow.

I have always made it clear that parents should have the right to know and understand what their children are being taught in schools.

More recently, residents have drawn to my attention a document “LGBTQ+ Toolkit for Schools and Colleges” which has been published by the Education Safeguarding Team at Peterborough City Council and Cambridgeshire County Council.

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There are a number of serious concerns with this document, especially in light of the recent Cass Review published in April 2024.

Dr Hillary Cass submitted her final report, which was commissioned by the NHS and contains recommendations in her capacity as Chair of the Independent Review on gender identity services for children and young people.

In her review it was made clear there has been a failure within the NHS Gender Clinics with regards to safeguarding and medical ethics over the past decade

Thousands of vulnerable children have received puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones.

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Many of these treatments, again, given to children - cause irreversible damage and changes for which there are no sound medical evidence to actually support the use of.

There has also been a failure within Gender Clinics to keep data and records to follow up with vulnerable patients on experimental treatments such as these.

Many children will have been irreversibly harmed by these treatments, but sadly we will now never know how many.

The recent document published by our council recommends the discredited “Trans Inclusion Schools Toolkit 2021” published by Brighton and Hove City Council.

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In a recent legal opinion, Karon Monaghan KC, a barrister specialising in equality and human rights concluded that schools and councils using this toolkit are likely to be in breach of equality and human rights legislation.

She also concluded that they may even be at risk of being sued by unhappy parents!

The Prime Minister was even led to recently publish new guidance for schools around transgender pupils and the teaching of this aspect of sex education.

We need to be very careful at what age we introduce these sensitive topics to vulnerable students.

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I of course sympathise with children that may be confused or have concerns about their gender and sexuality but ultimately, parents must have a say on what is taught and when to their children.

Government guidance also states that school children should use toilets and changing rooms appropriate to their sex and that they should play in sports appropriate to their sex.

Guidance clarifies that if a child is allowed to ‘socially transition’ this is not a neutral act and that parents must be engaged in decisions about their children.

This is and always will be a sensitive issue, however we must protect children that are not always mature enough and are still learning and understanding themselves from making irreversible changes to their bodies they may regret later in life.

Ultimately, there is a lot of evidence stacked against these types of publications and I think Peterborough City Council should publicly withdraw this document and put children and parents first.