A Scottish church fears that proposals for compulsory sex education in schools could be used to “indoctrinate” children.
Lobbying group Sexpression:UK wants the law to be used to force all schools to teach children about issues such as abortion, homosexuality, sexually transmitted diseases, and pornography.
Aberdeen University medical student Jack Fletcher told the Scottish Parliament public petitions committee that children at many schools were missing out on “vital information” on issues such contraception, domestic violence and sexual harassment, exposure to pornography and homophobia.
He argued that sex education was patchy across the country and had failed to stem teenage pregnancies or sexually transmitted diseased.
“I believe that a statutory change is necessary and sex education is a fundamental human right,” he said.
“Without it we are not equipping our children and young people with the knowledge to make safe and informed choices about the sexual and emotional health.”
Conservative MSP Jackson Carlaw said he worried there was a perceived wisdom as to what was correct and anyone who took an alternative view would be told they were wrong, which could conflict with the beliefs of some parents.
Sexpression:UK spokeswoman Rebecca Ryce said the curriculum should be split into factual information about issues such as sexually-transmitted infections and the effectiveness of contraception, and discussion points on subjective topics.
“I do not think that teachers should be told to preach any sort of ideology at all – it should be more about facilitating discussion,” she said.
“I think it’s good for children to hear all sides of the argument as I think that will inform their learning.”
Free Church of Scotland minister Rev David Robertson described the petition as a “Trojan horse” that could be used to education children “in a particular sexual philosophy which is contrary to the wishes of their parents”.
“On the surface Sexpression’s concerns seem justified and their solutions reasonable,” he said.
“However in reality it is a Trojan horse which will be used to indoctrinate our children into the particular sexual ethics and philosophy which Sexpression regard as right.”