Sex education comic for six year olds causes controversy

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The debate about when children should be taught about sex has intensified with the publication of a new comic for primary school children.

The fpa, formerly the Family Planning Association, has produced 50,000 copies of Let’s Grow with Nisha and Joe’ for use in UK schools.

The 12-page illustrated booklet, aimed at six and seven year olds, includes pictures of a naked boy and girl and readers are asked to label their sexual organs.

Margaret Morrissey of the lobby group Parents Outloud told The Daily Telegraph:

“Giving children explicit names for body parts at this age seems clinical.

“We are feeding them this information when they still should be playing with dolls and toy cars. At that age, children are unlikely to have the ability to ask the right questions. We have got to be so careful that we are educating, not confusing or putting fear into their minds.”

The fpa defended the 12-page booklet.

The charity’s chief executive, Julie Bentley, told the BBC:

“Sex and relationships education at this age is about learning basic information and skills, in exactly the same way that children start with ABC when they begin to read and write.

“It’s important that they have this information before their bodies start to change.

“Talking about body parts is often easier for children when they are younger as they are less self-conscious and less sensitive about their bodies.”

Earlier this week a group that works to combat homophobic bullying in primary schools was criticised over a conference it organised.

The Christian Institute objected to the event at Exeter University, entitled Queering the Body; Queering Primary Education.

It is being run by No Outsiders, who work in 14 primary schools and receive £600,000 of state funding from the Economic and Social Research Council.

The group, made up of academics from Sunderland University, give schools, local authorities and teacher-training institutions sexualities equality training and resources, including a wide range of children’s literature.

Questions for discussion were outlined in the seminar schedule, published on The Christian Institute website. They include:

• How might we create primary classrooms where gender-queer bodies and queer sexualities (for children and teachers) are affirmed and celebrated?

• What would it take to teach queerly? How would teachers’ and children’s bodies be implicated in this? What sorts of subversions and reversals might it entail?

• At what cost do we deny children’s and teachers’ sexuality? What do we lose if desire and pleasure are banned from the classroom?

The Christian Institute’s Simon Calvert said:

“When an adult who is working in a primary school suggests that children should explore their sexuality, that should result in a complaint to the police.”

Patricia Morgan, a sociologist and author of books supporting the “traditional” family structures, is quoted in the Christian Institute story.

“The proposal is that primary school classrooms should be turned into gay saunas,” she claimed.

“This is about homosexual practice in junior schools. The idiots who repealed Section 28 should consider that this is where it has got them.”

Dr Elizabeth Atkinson from No Outsiders told The Daily Telegraph:

“The seminar is part of a long-standing academic debate and has nothing to do with schools.”