Sex education will teach British children about female genital mutilation, consent, digital interactions and menstruation, following new government guidelines due to become mandatory in 2020.

Health, relationships and sex education will encourage schoolchildren starting age 4 to care for their mental health by limiting screen-time in favour of outdoor activities. Preteens will learn about issues like grooming, domestic and honour-based abuse, and forced marriages. Teenagers’ health education will centre on social media and other internet-associated risks like ‘sexting’.

Four-year-olds will not be taught about LGBTQI+ relationships, ministers have insisted, clarifying that individual schools can decide when and whether to discuss gay and trans issues.

However, MPs must now debate a 106,732-signature-strong petition denouncing the new curriculum as religiously and culturally insensitive and demanding the right to opt children out.

It stresses the updated Relationships and Sex Education’s (RSE) “physical, psychological, and spiritual implications”.

There is no evidence that RSE encourages children to engage in sexual activity earlier—rather, it delays sexual exploration, reduces STIs and unintended pregnancies, and encourages contraceptive use, according to UNESCO.

Should governments compel schools to educate children on subjects which may go against their parents’ cultural and religious sensitivities?

Credit for this article's header image goes to Getty.