Pupils should be taught that abstinence and celibacy are "positive life choices".
At least according to the Church of England, which also said in a blog post that "healthy relationships and sex are gifts from God and should bring joy".
The blog, written by the Church's chief education officer, the Rev Nigel Genders, goes on to say that Christians understand "marriage as the context for sexual relationships, as well as the understanding of abstinence and celibacy as positive life choices".
His comments come in response to government consultation on what content should be included in the teaching of relationships and sex education (SRE) after the Department for Education said current guidelines were "out of date".
Under legislation passed last year, relationships education is now compulsory in all primary schools, while sex and relationships education is compulsory in secondary schools.
To find out if the Church's suggestion is a good idea, we talked to sex education experts.
Here's what they said.
'The call could be too simplistic.'
George Barker, externals director for Sexpression:UK, explained to indy100 that his organisation was "sex positive" and don't put too much emphasis on abstinence. However, he said:
We always advocate for students in school to be informed about all the available options, so they have a well-informed understanding of sex and relationships.
Schools that strongly advocate refraining from sex as a preventative measure can paint sex as scary, Mr Barker continued.
For Mr Barker, the biggest concern is not so much the promotion abstinence and celibacy, but what such education might not cover. What about same-sex relationships? Asexual students? STIs? HIV? Consent? Mr Barker continued:
I think all of that together encompasses a more healthy way to approach sex education.
There is a lot more to relationships and sex education than abstinence and celibacy. That's not education.
That's just avoiding putting kids into a position where they might have to make a decision.
How are you going to make a decision if you're not informed?
The Church does say that pupils with same-sex or trans parents, those who have LGBT+ family members and those who may identify as LGBT+, should feel included.
'Is it relatable for young people?'
Natika H Halil, chief executive of sexual health charity FPA, said that young people must relate to what they are taught.
It’s vital that relationships and sex education gives young people the accurate information they need to help them have happy, healthy relationships, look after their sexual health and wellbeing, and choose when and whether to have sex.
However, to be effective it must be driven by what young people want and need. It’s most successful when young people can relate to what they are taught, and when lessons are inclusive, positive and non-stigmatizing. Lessons must recognise that healthy relationships can take many forms – there’s no one-size fits all.
A danger with pushing celibacy and abstinence too fiercely is alienating children who simply don't relate to that lifestyle.
'Refraining from sex is a legitimate and positive choice.'
Sexual health charity Brook’s head of policy and public affairs, Lisa Hallgarten said:
Brook sees no issue with good relationships and sex education (SRE) sitting next to any faith or culture and we regularly deliver successful education sessions in faith schools.
Good SRE helps to prepare young people for all the relationship decisions they will face and empowers them to evaluate risk and make positive choices about their bodies and their lives.
It is important that young people consider the kind of relationships they would like to be in before initiating a sexual relationship, including thinking about sexual abstinence as a legitimate and positive choice.
The average age of first sex for young people in the UK is 16, so it is vital that SRE equips young people with the information and skills they need to develop safe, pleasurable sexual relationships and to be able to access non-judgemental and confidential sexual health services like Brook to support them.
The most important thing is that all young people are given the relationships and sex education they need to prepare them for the modern world – including those attending faith schools.
If abstinence is to be taught in some schools as part of SRE, it must not be presented as the only option or as a superior one. And it’s important to say that the evidence shows abstinence-only based sex education doesn’t work and doesn’t prepare young people for life.
At Terrence Higgins Trust, we’re working to ensure that SRE lessons are fit for purpose when it becomes compulsory in all schools from 2019. That includes making it LGBT-inclusive, so that no-one’s left behind, and that it has a strong emphasis on HIV and sexual health – both in secular and faith schools.