BHA speech at protest against Nadine Dorries’ abstinence education bill

20 January, 2012

Nadine Dorries MP’s proposed Sex Education (Required Content) Bill, which seeks to secure abstinence education for girls only, is due to have its ‘second reading’ in the House of Commons later today. In May 2011 MPs voted the Bill through its first stage by 67 to 61 votes.

The British Humanist Association (BHA) has supported and helped organise a protest against the Bill, with BHA Education Campaigner Richy Thompson delivering the following speech:

It’s great to be at today’s rally representing the British Humanist Association, and it’s fantastic that the event has got such a good turnout. I’m delighted to see so many people standing up for SRE.

So, let’s be honest here. We know this Bill today may not be debated. And we know that if it is debated, it’s unlikely to pass.

But that’s not why we’ve come out. We’re here to say two things – no to these attacks by this faith-based lobby, and yes to comprehensive, high quality sex education.

So, no to these attacks – this Bill, and the fact that it has progressed this far, illustrates the growing influence of a lobby with vested faith-based interests in promoting and imposing a narrow, unshared and damaging perspective regarding sex education, sexual health and abortion rights; a perspective that is unsupported by the evidence. We oppose this lobby.

However, yes to comprehensive, high quality SRE – all children and young people have a right to full, objective SRE in all schools, which should equip everyone – the boys, as well as the girls – with the information and skills they need to make their own informed and responsible decisions, including saying no to sexual activity if that is what they choose. There should be no opt-outs for parents, no opt-outs for Academies and Free Schools, and no opt-outs for ‘faith’ schools.

We at the British Humanist Association support a secular state, with equal rights for everyone, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, religion or belief. We believe that lives are best lived on the basis of reason and humanity. All the best evidence shows that abstinence education doesn’t work, but comprehensive SRE does work and therefore we are delighted to campaign in support of SRE practitioners and teachers and delighted to support this demo today. Thank you.


For further comment or information please contact protest organiser Beth Granter at or on 07976846385, or Richy Thompson at or on 020 7462 4993.

More information on the event can be found at

The demonstration starts at 10:30am on 20 January 2012, outside Parliament at Old Palace Yard, Westminster.

Read Nadine Dorries MP’s Sex Education (Required Content) Bill’s first reading at

Check how your MP voted in the first reading:

Read about what is currently taught in UK schools:

Read more about the BHA’s work on Sex and Relationships Education:

The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. It promotes a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief.