David Laws, the education minister said: "We have long made the case, both inside and outside government, for updated sex and relationship education to be taught in all schools, including academies and free schools, but it is not something the Conservatives are open to".
It's not just the Conservatives. A quick Google on this news story showed that where other media sources had gone with variations on the headline 'Lib Dems say Sex Education should begin age seven' the Daily Mail subtly imply their disapproval with the headline 'Force sex education on all schools, says Clegg'. They also take time to note that the sex education announcement came as Clegg was "pictured barefoot at Indian Temple". Fuckin' hippy.
Apart from Nick Clegg's obvious hippy pervy sex intentions it's hard to understand why age appropriate sex education should be opposed. Most comments on the DM article focus on children knowing too much too soon and being forced to grow up before their time.
Giving them the tools to make mature decisions is not the same as forcing them to grow up too fast.
We know, from various studies such as this one that negative or abstinence only sex education that is scant correlates with higher rates of sexually active teens who do not use contraception, risking STDs and pregnancy.
There's also the fact that sex education includes learning about puberty and the changes that occur growing up. There is a greater focus on abuse, healthy relationships and self esteem, meaning big decisions such as whether or not to have sex can be approached in an informed and confident manner. I'd say that education gives children and teenagers the power to choose to say no without fear. Giving them the tools to make mature decisions is not the same as forcing them to grow up too fast.
But can children handle the truth? I feel I was unfair to suggest in the first paragraph that any child might be shocked when told the mechanics of sex. I have seen in various biographies anecdotes of registered low level disgust, often confusion involving flowers and a man's urine when too many euphemisms have been employed and plain old indifference. The truth is that thanks to instinct I suspect the old birds and the bees and their needs are already present in the subconscious (or something, I only have AS Level Biology). Why else do you think young kids can often be found playing naked? It can still be innocent. But I don't recall my pet rabbits getting any kind of informative talk but they still managed to have a litter.
Whatever your thoughts on who should take on the task of telling children about sex and relationships what is vital is that they get the correct information and a state curriculum could guarantee that. You'd hope.