Winchester College row as parents revolt over sex education lessons

Winchester College has been accused of “indoctrinating” its pupils amid a row over sex education classes where 14-year-old boys were told they will not be prosecuted for having “consensual” intercourse.

a large stone building: A number of parents are understood to have written to the school to complain that the lesson was not appropriate for young boys

© Provided by The Telegraph
A number of parents are understood to have written to the school to complain that the lesson was not appropriate for young boys

Some parents at the £41,700-a-year boarding school are furious that their sons were told that the age of consent “is not there to punish young people for having consensual sex”.

Students in Year Nine and Year Ten at the elite public school were given a virtual lesson on relationships, sex and health education earlier this week by Dr Eleanor Draeger from the organisation It Happens.

Dr Draeger, who describes herself as a a sex education trainer and medical writer, told boys aged 13 and 14 that in a “happy, healthy relationship” where “you both want to have sex and you both have sex, you are unlikely to be prosecuted from that because its not in the public interest”.

She went on: “It’s just two 14 year olds who want to have sex with eachother who are consensually having sex.”

Dr Draeger went on to say that if you are 14 and you have sex with a 19-year-old teacher, the teacher would be prosecuted, adding: “So the age of consent is not there to prosecute [or] punish young people for having consensual sex.”

A number of parents are understood to have written to the school to complain that the lesson was not appropriate for young boys.

“The lesson was a Trojan Horse,” a source told The Telegraph. “It was pretending to be about sexual health but it was basically advocating underage sex. The boys were being hoodwinked into thinking that underage sex is normal. Some of these boys have only just turned 13, they are so naive at that age.”

Parents have also complained to the school about boys being taught that “biology isn’t binary”.

Dr Draeger illustrated this point in her lesson by saying: “Broadly speaking people with XY chromosomes look like this and people with XX end up looking like this. But you can have XXY, you can have X0, you can have XY but the receptors in your body just don’t recognise testosterone.”

She explained that people who are born with XY chromosomes “don’t have a uterus and have testicals that are inside the abdomen where the ovaries would be”.

She asked pupils: “Would you say that person was a man or a woman? When I ask people that question they say oh it’s definitely a woman because they were brought up a woman. Some people say ‘oh they are definitely a man because they have got a Y chromosome’.

“But actually, A, they are intersex (because intersex is an umbrella term for all sorts of conditions like that) and B, society and medicine lets them define themselves as male or female depending on who they think they are. And that’s because biology isn’t binary.”

A source said that parents were concerned that pupils were being “indoctrinated” with views from the “transgender lobby” that were not age-appropriate.

It Happens was set up in 2018 to provide educational talks, workshops and training sessions for students, teachers and parents.

They say on their website that their sessions are “straight-talking, open and honest”, adding: “We take the awkwardness out of these sensitive topics so that young people really hear us and are able to ask the many questions they have – in a safe space”.

Winchester College, which was founded by the Bishop of Winchester in 1382, is one of the most prestigious schools in the country and counts the Chancellor Rishi Sunak among its alumni. 

A spokesman for Winchester College said they believed the section of the talk about the age of consent had been taken out of context.

They added: “ItHappens are members of the PSHE Association. They advise schools on how to implement the statutory guidance for the teaching of sex education in independent schools.

“The presentations were delivered by specialist consultant Dr Draeger, who has worked in the NHS for 16 years. Their content was in line with both NHS and WHO guidance.”

A spokesman for It Happens said the comments have been taken out of context. They added that they have had an “enormous” amount of positive feedback from teachers, pupils and parents who attended their sessions on Wednesday. 

Relationship, sex and health education is a “sensitive subject and we understand that we touch upon topics that parents may find new and thought-provoking”, the spokesman added. 

“Eleanor is a hugely experienced NHS doctor who has been working in Sexual Health for 16 years and has extensive experience delivering Sex Education training to teachers and talks for pupils in school for many years”.

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