Conservative MP Andrea Leadsom has repeated her call for sex education books to be classified by the BBFC.
Leadsom claims some of the material being taught to children as young as five is extraordinarily inappropriate . She wants books and videos used for sex education to be given a rating by the British Board of Film Classification before they
are used in schools.
During a Westminster Hall debate, Leadsom said many adults were horrified when they found out what children were being taught about sex. She said:
I've seen cartoons of two people engaged in sexual activities with the caption 'Here are some ways mummies and daddies fit together', others depicting two cartoon characters locked in an intimate embrace, accompanied by a vivid
explanation, using sexual terminology of the act of intercourse.
As well as cartoons I've been shown a video of two people engaged in intercourse, with a child's voice over the top, saying, 'it looks like they're having fun'.
She also wants the law changed so that parents actively have to opt in to sex lessons, rather than opt out , as is currently the case if they have objections.
Schools minister, Nick Gibb, said all sex education material used in state schools was scrutinised to ensure it set the right tone . The education secretary had set out statutory guidelines for schools and councils to follow, he added,
which would ensure that inappropriate content would not be used.
Comment: Parental Guidance
Perhaps a Sex Ed Parental Guidance certificate would read:
Suitable for children of all ages. Children are advised to consider whether the material may upset sensitive parents before showing it to them.
Conservative MP Andrea Leadsom has presented a 45,000 signature petition to Schools Minister Nick Gibb.
Leadsom is campaigning against explicit sex education in primary schools and feels that the BBFC are ideally placed to provide their censorship expertise to sex education materials. She said:
The Department for Education is currently drafting new guidelines for schools on sex and relationship education (SRE) and I would like to see a form of independent classification of the material used. The British Board of Film Classification
(BBFC) has been rating films for 99 years and seems to be well placed to assess material, and I am sure that this would give worried parents some peace of mind in knowing what their children were seeing.
To see some of the images being shown to very young children in our primary schools was genuinely shocking.
After presenting the petition, Leadsom had a meeting with Gibb and a number of Northamptonshire parents. I know the Minister takes this matter very seriously and I hope he will take on board my idea of allowing the BBFC to age rate material
, she said.
Sex education videos used in schools are to be given age ratings for the first time amid evidence that growing numbers of concerned parents are pulling their children out of classes.
From February, the government will scrap a regulation which exempts sex education videos from age classification. So for example, the BBFC will decide whether sex education videos are PG rated and so suitable for primary school. If the depictions
of sex in the videos are anything more than implied and the language is goes beyond mild references and innuendo , they will be effectively banned from primary school. Also schools will be told to send parents letters
detailing the content of sexual education videos before they are shown in class.
The new policy follows 'outrage' over a sex education video made by Channel 4 called Living and Growing . The video included a segment for eight year olds showing a naked cartoon couple chasing each other around a bedroom with a feather
before having sex. Another segment, aimed at children from five, asked them to name the body parts on a drawing of a naked man and woman.
Ed Vaizey, the culture minister, said:
Ensuring children are protected from inappropriate content in the best way possible, is vitally important. The new classifications will mean that children are better protected from harmful content and parents will have the information they need
to make confident decisions about whether certain DVDs are suitable for their children to watch.
The BBFC will be given the powers after a consultation found that teachers were concerned that growing numbers of parents, particularly from ethnic minority backgrounds, are pulling their children out of sex education classes. The consultation,
conducted by the BBFC, also assessed parent's concerns about Channel 4's controversial Living and Growing DVD, which was shown in thousands of schools. Teachers said that the feather duster scene, in which a cartoon couple chased each
other, conveyed a message that sex is fun and something for children and teenagers to be excited by .
David Austin, the head of Policy at the BBFC, said:
We hope to help schools and help parents find out more about the content of sex education videos before their children see them. What we haven't tended to look at [in the past] is sex education videos for younger children.
There was a lot in the [Living and Growing] video that was suitable. There was one with a cartoon with a woman straddling a man having sex, there was another of a man chasing a woman with a French tickler.
Parents didn't like that, and the company has started selling an edited version.