UK government proposes ban on sex education for children under nine

Jalees Ahmad, Al Hakam

Picture this: a young child, easily in his early teens, walks the streets of London in an attempt to make different purchases, each time facing age restrictions. The store owner at the cigarette store denies him tobacco, stating that the law protects minors from harmful substances. Similarly, he is refused alcohol due to not meeting the legal drinking age requirement. At the tattoo shop, he’s simply told that the decision to get a tattoo involves lifelong consequences, and that he is too young to make such a permanent choice. However – and this is where the story takes a surprising turn – when the young boy seeks to undergo a sex change and undergo surgery, astonishingly, this is permitted without encountering any age restrictions or legal barriers.

Did that not sound absurd? If it didn’t, please read it again.

When I read the title of the BBC article “Plan to ban sex education for children under nine,” the first thought I had was: Do children as young as nine really need to learn about this stuff at this moment in time? I mean, surely more time can be given to learning geography, countries, continents, and other aspects of an array of subjects that children can really relate to. Is a nine-year-old really thinking about sex?

Then, in the article, when I read, “a government source said they also included plans to ban any children being taught about gender identity” (“Plan to ban sex education for children under nine”,, 15 May 2024), I found it surprising that today, children are still not allowed to choose their bedtime, but for gender, it seems they are being pushed to believe they can choose what they feel like. I mean, ask yourself, do you want today’s future generation to busy their minds contemplating if they want to be a girl or boy, or should we teach them the values of being respectable human beings and help them choose professions that can benefit mankind, be it doctors, engineers, philosophers, or scientists? When did the bar drop so low that children should decide on a matter already determined by God – or biology, if you don’t believe in God?

Islam, from the very beginning, has laid great emphasis on the upbringing of children, be it in education or in being a model for society. So, with this proposed ban, as the article states, it seems a move in a positive and promising direction. In Islam, the protection of children’s innocence is paramount. Islamic teachings emphasise modesty and the appropriate timing for discussing sensitive topics.

In 2022, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa, addressed this very matter, stating:

“In Western countries, there is a growing trend and movement to teach small children in schools or elsewhere, things that are entirely beyond their comprehension and not at all age-appropriate. They are trying to sexualise innocent young children by teaching them things they are not ready to process. Throughout history, children have not been exposed to such things at such a young age. So why now is there a need to force very small children into discussions about sex? All it serves to do is to destroy the innocence of youth and is bound to have long-term harmful effects.” (“Head of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Warns Against Sexualisation of Children in Schools & Media”,

In Islam, it must be remembered that parents are the primary educators for their children, and schools are there to facilitate and bring about positive growth in future generations. It’s no wonder that the early mosques in early Islam were hubs where people came to learn and ultimately were also used as libraries. Parents are given a duty by God and have been assigned. The Quranic prayer: “My Lord, have mercy on them even as they nourished me in [my] childhood (17:25),” shows that parents must raise their children in a befitting manner if they desire God’s mercy to be upon them too. The Islamic faith places great importance on the rights and responsibilities of parents in the upbringing and education of their children. So, reading that “The government believes that clearer guidance will provide support for teachers and reassurance for parents, and will set out which topics should be taught to pupils at what age”, seems to be promising. (“Plan to ban sex education for children under nine”,, 15 May 2024) 

When educating young children about gender, it’s essential to emphasise that teaching about gender identity should be approached cautiously and grounded in biological facts. For instance, in scientific fields like archaeology, the sex of ancient human remains is determined based on physical characteristics rather than speculating about gender identity. This focus on biological reality aligns with the need to provide children with clear, factual information that supports their understanding of themselves and the world around them.

With “plans to ban any children being taught about gender identity” (Ibid.), let it be known that Islam places great emphasis on moral and ethical development from an early age. An example of this can be seen in how prayer, a fundamental pillar of Islam, is instilled within children when they turn seven years of age, and made compulsory when they reach the age of 10. And so, with focus on relationships and health education, rather than explicit sex education, it can help foster an environment where children learn about respect, empathy, and proper conduct – you know things all societies need. This guidance can be viewed as supporting a balanced approach to moral upbringing. And this has been greatly emphasised by Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa for the past many years.

Speaking of this topic, Hazrat Khalifatul Masihaa states:

“It can never be morally right for society to encourage young people to change their biological gender or sex. This is completely against the teachings of Islam. Nonetheless, there are some people who are born intersex and they should be supported and helped by society so that they can live their lives in the best way possible. They should be protected from discrimination or having their human rights usurped.” (“Lajna Imaillah Holland Have Honour of Two Virtual Meetings with World Head Of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community”,

And so, today, educators must ask: are we prioritising the right thing? For the past 50 years, the world has been grappling with the profound and interrelated challenges of climate change, economic inequality, geopolitical tensions, public health crises, and technological disruption. So, do we really want to ignore all these factors and expose kids to various things in sex education at a young age and become “indoctrinated with radical and unevidenced ideologies about sex and gender?” 

Thus, with this BBC news report, it seems promising that the following are taken into consideration: preservation of childhood innocence, parental reassurance and involvement, and a focus on evidence-based education. These are things that Islam has laid bare as the bare minimum when it comes to education.

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