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Comedian Shappi Khorsandi to press for inclusive sex education as new Humanists President

Nick Duffy December 14, 2015

Comedian Shappi Khorsandi will campaign for inclusive sex and relationship education in schools – after being named President of the British Humanist Association.

The comic was announced today as the new President of the BHA, which campaigns on issues relating to humanism, secularism, and human rights.

The BHA has long campaigned to make sex and relationship education (SRE) a statutory part of the curriculum in schools.

Though Education Secretary Nicky Morgan has supported all schools providing an inclusive sex and relationship education, the government continues to rebuff calls to legislate on the issue.

Shappi Khorsandi told PinkNews: “Long before I was approached to be President I’d followed the BHA’s education campaigning extremely closely, and their work on PSHE/SRE is something I’m particularly keen to speak up for over the next three years.

“Given what we all stand to gain from this subject – and I’m talking here about tackling issues like sexual health, gender stereotyping, violence against women, homophobia, and child abuse – it’s unbelievable to me that more emphasis isn’t placed on it.

“Part of this is down to religious opposition, of course, part to political inertia, and part, I suspect, to that very British prudishness which makes us reluctant to talk about anything that ‘might upset grandma’.

“Well, it’s long past time that these obstacles were cast aside, and the BHA’s place in the campaign for compulsory, age-appropriate SRE in schools is one I’m looking forward to lending my voice to.”

Announcing Shappi’s appointment, BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson said: “It’s a great pleasure to welcome Shappi to the Presidency of the British Humanist Association.

“Our President must be able not just to communicate humanism clearly but to connect on an emotional level with those many people in Britain who have humanist beliefs but don’t know the word exists to describe them.

“As such a warm and accomplished broadcaster, not to mention an intimate commentator on the human experience in her standup and elsewhere, Shappi certainly has that ability in spades.”

The comedian, who was born to non-religious parents in Iran, added: “As someone who was raised in a non-religious family, I don’t just believe that human virtues such as love, compassion, generosity, and understanding can exist outside the realm of religion… I know it for a fact.

“This approach has been hugely fulfilling in my own life, and it’s the ethos behind everything the BHA does – whether campaigning for a pluralistic and cooperative society, offering pastoral care in hospitals, or providing meaningful non-religious ceremonies for baby-namings, funerals, and weddings.”

She added: “This humanist perspective is a profound and inspiring one – and it’s not just a modern perspective.

“Through the centuries and all around the world, people have looked to reason and to science in place of superstition and sought to make the most out of the one life they have.

“It’s crucial that this voice is heard. The BHA is consistent in its calls for a more tolerant, rational, and above all fairer society, and I hope that I can add to its influence as a positive movement for social change.”

More: British Humanist Society, comedian, comic, Humanist, LGBT, Sex, sex and relationship education, sexuality, Shappi Khorsandi, SRE

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