In September 2020 relationship and sex education (RSE) will become statutory in all secondary schools in England. In line with government guidance, it is recommended that age-appropriate sex education is also taught in primary schools. Due to press hype, RSE has become a topic of concern for some parents.
In November 2019, the “Sex and Relationship Education – Addressing Faith Communities Concerns” Conference, hosted by the Faith Network for Manchester, was held in Manchester’s Methodist Central Hall. The conference was open to all faiths, faith leaders, teachers, social workers and parents.
Bishop Holt, who is also Associate Professor of Religious Education at Chester University, was praised by Rabbi Warren Elf for his excellent keynote address
Bishop Holt spoke of the need to respect those whose faith differs from their own. He said, “… we should all be allowed to be true to who we are and the values that we hold.” He quoted Joseph Smith who said, “Cease wrangling and contending with each other, and cultivate the principles of union and friendship in their midst,” and Gordon B Hinckley, “Look for their strengths and virtues, and you will find strengths and virtues in your own life.”
Regarding RSE, Bishop Holt said, “If we were to believe every headline … we would perhaps think that what is being taught in schools is scary and inappropriate. If people read the guidelines … they will quickly realise that what is being taught, and what is suggested in the guidelines are so far from the headlines as is possible. It will help young people to respect themselves and others. Listening to and valuing every child as an individual is crucial.”
Other information at the conference encouraged parents to take part in the planning done by their children's schools to deliver RSE, and encouraged headteachers to know their children, their community and local faith leaders, so that the community knows what is being taught and how.