The week in sex

In politics this week Almost two thirds of people in the UK support letting schools teach up to 15-year-olds about abstinence and responsibility. An International Foundation for Education Research survey of 9,000 people found…

The week in sex

In politics this week

Almost two thirds of people in the UK support letting schools teach up to 15-year-olds about abstinence and responsibility. An International Foundation for Education Research survey of 9,000 people found that 60.6% disagreed that “primary and secondary schools should have to teach abstinence and responsible sexual behaviour”, while 37.7% strongly agreed. What’s more, 45.2% said they strongly opposed teaching children about contraception, while 32.6% strongly agreed.

The findings, published at the end of a month which has seen nearly half of high-school age students having unprotected sex, is likely to feed worries about teaching “age appropriate” sex education in English primary schools. Meanwhile, No 10 has been at pains to signal that the Conservative party will not be introducing any new laws around grammar schools this year, just days after a major speech by David Cameron warned that the “too many people” who wished for a return to grammar schools were misguided. Cameron argued that these schools “work”, citing Aberdeen’s success. David Blair, headteacher of Aberdeen Girls Grammar, puts the success down to a policy that allows schools to decide to enrol pupils who could benefit from a good education.

And in important news from home

Theresa May’s depleted UK Cabinet must come up with a Brexit bill, already dubbed the Negotiator’s Bill, before year’s end. At its simplest, the bill will complete the groundwork required for the deal Britain negotiates with the EU – including laying out economic policy, freedom of movement rules and transitional arrangements – for the rest of its lifetime.

May said, in a rare forthright appearance, that Britain would seek to retain key “crucial” elements of freedom of movement, the EU’s leading policy in allowing workers and goods between member states. Photograph: Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP

There has also been movement on civil service reforms following Michael Gove’s comments earlier this week that he wanted a civil service designed to “give confidence to the people of this country”. Number 10 said a new committee would be chaired by a private citizen, but it wasn’t immediately clear who it would be, or whether there would be enough consensus in time for the new commitee to take effect.

Meanwhile, May said, in a rare forthright appearance, that Britain would seek to retain key “crucial” elements of freedom of movement, the EU’s leading policy in allowing workers and goods between member states. The cabinet should now bring forward a detailed position on those, after she had originally sought to delay reaching an agreement until after Brexit day in March 2019.

From elsewhere in the world

President Emmanuel Macron urged armed forces on Friday to help fend off any surge in foreigners seeking to leave France in the wake of the most deadly attack on French soil in decades. Islamic State extremists killed eight people in the southern city of Marseille on Thursday evening, mainly in a bar where a gunman dressed as a policeman shot dead two hostages.

Freed US journalist Wa Lone arrives in Myanmar following his release from prison. Photograph: Lobsang Sang-A/EPA

The decision by the US to establish a new special envoy to Myanmar brings to focus the military’s heavy-handed repression of democratic change that has occurred since 2010. Barack Obama’s presence in the last three presidential elections in Myanmar – his administration’s only pro-democracy triumph on the Asia route – allowed the embattled country to win prestige, legitimacy and support in the region. But his efforts have been overshadowed by the military’s refusal to step back from persecution of the Rohingya. The special envoy will now be reduced to its traditional function of translating Obama’s rhetoric into action.

What we’re reading

Residents of the tiny village of Shangri-La take part in a protest to attract attention to proposed upgrades to the Shinta Hazi public bath, or ‘tunnel bath’. Photograph: Bloomberg via Getty Images

“Shangri-La reveals the faults of the Manichean West.” Tim Marshall argues in The Unwinding that the original meaning of Shangri-La lies in romantic myth. The need for wealth preservation requires oppression, he says. “As long as the state can preserve wealth within society, communities gain a sense of stability that can guarantee widespread support for an interventionist state in a crisis.”

Dutch president Mark Rutte will hold talks with newly elected PM Van Rompuy, who will present a new political framework for the Netherlands, which will include shaping refugee policy. Van Rompuy is expected to lobby for EU action on

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