Eton parents today revealed how pupils as young as 13 had been given a ‘creative workshop’ on pornography while a child was left asking ‘Is it ok to be a boy and like rugby?’ after a session on ‘toxic masculinity’.
One parent said children were being indoctrinated by a ‘partisan, political’ Woke agenda, which involves contested ideas about gender and race being presented as fact with any opposing view silenced for being politically incorrect.
The mother, who spoke to MailOnline on condition of anonymity, said teachers and fellow parents were ‘really worried’ about the impact of the approach on younger pupils’ wellbeing but would not speak out in public for fear of the consequences.
English teacher Will Knowland was recently dismissed for refusing to remove a video published on his personal YouTube channel that denounced ‘radical feminist orthodoxy’ – which was intended for the £42,500-a-year school’s older pupils.
The move provoked a free speech row, with headmaster Simon Henderson accused of pushing the school in a ‘Woke direction’, and of presiding over a ‘progressive’ atmosphere akin to ‘religious fundamentalism’.
Mr Knowland has appealed the move and a disciplinary panel will consider his fate tomorrow – although the decision is not expected to be revealed until later this week. Eton insists his sacking was a matter of internal discipline.
This poster advertised a ‘pornography workshop’ at Eton College for children as young as 13. E and F blocks are the equivalent of years nine and ten in state schools
Headmaster Simon Henderson has been accused of pushing a ‘Woke agenda’, and of presiding over a ‘progressive’ atmosphere akin to ‘religious fundamentalism’
Today, five Eton parents spoke of their concerns that impressionable younger pupils were being exposed to explicit content and taught contested ideas about gender in a ‘one-sided’ manner.
A ‘creative workshop’ run by the Eton ‘Femsoc’ [feminism society] entitled ‘Sex Positivity, Feminism and Pornography’ was targeted at boys in years nine and ten – meaning some would have been as young as 13.
The session was run by a group called the School of Sexuality Education. It shares a list of ‘guiding principles’ on its website, which an eminent sociologist today compared to a manifesto for Left-wing identity politics.
One mother, who has a son and several other relatives at the school and asked to stay anonymous to protect them, said: ‘Parents are really concerned about the pushing of age-inappropriate sexual content to children below the age of consent.
‘This talk was given to boys in E and F block, who are 13 and 14. They are below the age of consent and this is an explicit sexual talk being put in a political, partisan way with an activist streak.
‘It is unbalanced and it is absolutely wrong that it should have been open to those year groups.’
Parents also spoke out about other workshops that the school has been running about issues of gender and masculinity, including from a group known as the Good Lad Initiative (GLI).
‘The younger boys were told to place a cushion under their jumper and invited to imagine there is a baby in their womb and above their vagina.’
Eton mother describing a gender workshop
The organisation, which carries out talks in hundreds of schools, aims to challenge ‘toxic masculinity’ – the concept that society requires men to act in particular ways that are harmful to themselves and others.
However, parents raised concern about the content of some of its sessions.
The unnamed mother who spoke on condition of anonymity said: ‘One mum called me and said her child had phoned her and asked whether it was still ok to be a boy and like rugby and rock music.’
Another parent said that in one workshop young boys were asked to role play ‘coming out as straight’, which one parent claimed left some pupils approaching their teachers in distress.
During the session, it is claimed: ‘The younger boys were told to place a cushion under their jumper and invited to imagine there is a baby in their womb and above their vagina.’
The mother who revealed her concerns anonymously said Eton was presenting ideas about gender in a way that was ‘one-sided and had a political agenda’.
How ‘Trendy Hendy’ is overseeing a Woke revolution at Eton
Simon Henderson took over his role as Eton College headmaster five years ago and was nicknamed ‘Trendy Hendy’ by pupils.
He is said to have a habit of wearing chino trousers and open-necked shirts, overseeing what has been viewed as a cultural change at the famous school.
Mr Henderson once suggested he might get rid of Eton’s traditional tailcoats and is known to be interested by modern management techniques.
A rainbow flag flying over Eton College
In 2016, he announced plans to split Eton’s deputy head-master role into two, creating one deputy head for ‘academic’ affairs and another for ‘pastoral’ matters.
He has also created a new role of ‘director of inclusion education’ to oversee diversity at Eton, and made a woman the Lower Master, or deputy head, for the first time.
A source has told the Telegraph that Mr Henderson ‘feels strongly’ about changing perceptions of Eton as an ‘old fashioned pillar of social and male elitism’.
The school has pointed out that the decision to sack Mr Knowland was taken by a disciplinary panel that the headmaster doesn’t sit on.
She added: ‘Will Knowland wanted to present an alternative view on masculinity to that promoted by the Good Lad guys but the school refused it.’
The mother said she wanted to reveal her concerns in public but feared the reaction if she did so.
‘The vocal minority can speak because they get brownie points for doing so, but if you don’t agree with them it’s a risk,’ she said.
‘We pay a lot of money to send our children to these schools which involves huge sacrifice.
‘The last thing we want is to put the spotlight on our children, especially as it could attract reprisals from other boys and teachers.
‘There are plenty of teachers who are really worried too but if they speak up they are shut down.’
The School of Sexuality Education, which run the ‘Femsoc’ talk on Sex Positivity, Feminism and Pornography, shares a list of ‘guiding principles’ on its websites that embody a series of fashionable Left-wing concepts.
This includes the promotion of ‘intersectionality’, which holds that ‘gender and sexual-based power inequities’ combine with ‘age, disability, sexuality, race [and] class’ to create oppression.
The group – which boasts of holding classes for thousands of pupils – says that is ‘committed to the process of decolonisation’ and references New Zealand by its Maori name, Aotearoa.
In a separate section of the website, the group announces its approach is to ‘support students to question social and cultural norms around gender and to develop gender equitable attitudes’.
Frank Furedi, Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the University of Kent, who has written 25 books on politics and sociology, suggested the classes were advancing a contentious form of identity politics rather than established fact.
He told MailOnline: ‘This is not so much a sex education class as project designed to re-socialise children into accepting a series of cultural values favoured by the course leader.
‘In particular it is devoted to encouraging children to question their sexual identity and the values that they take for granted.
‘The main lesson it wants to impart is that what matters is your gender identity and not whether you are a boy or a girl. What drives it is not ”evidence” but the ideology celebrated by identity politics.’
Several parents also raised concerns that teachers were not present in workshops were sexual content was being discussed.
MailOnline understands there is an option for parents to opt out of the classes, but today several insisted they were unaware of this.
One said: ‘The reality is that most parents don’t have a clue about it, and furthermore don’t know they can withdraw their boys.’
Another added: ‘I didn’t even know that this existed and I am appalled that my boys have had to sit through this without a member of staff being present or having any knowledge of what is taking place.’
Eton headmaster Simon Henderson has been nicknamed ‘Trendy Hendy’ for his approach to social issues.
Mr Knowland’s sacking has sparked a heated row between supporters and opponents of the headmaster, with some parents coming forward to suggest his critics were ‘an old guard’ of reactionaries.
English teacher Will Knowland was recently dismissed for refusing to remove a video published on his personal YouTube channel that denounced ‘radical feminist orthodoxy’
Yesterday, one mother insisted that Mr Henderson was supported by most boys, arguing that the recent public criticism was driven by Old Etonians rather than current pupils.
‘Those complaining are mostly old, white men,’ she told the Mail On Sunday. ‘The students who are actually there are almost unanimously supportive of Simon.’
But this claim was furiously denied today by the mother who spoke anonymously to MailOnline, who commented: ‘That is absolutely not the case’.
She pointed out that a petition begun by boys calling for Mr Knowland’s reinstatement had attracted more than 2,600 signatures.
A former Eton teacher agreed, telling MailOnline: ‘The idea that Henderson is popular except among an imagined ‘old guard’ of reactionaries is simply untrue.
‘Within a year of arriving at Eton Henderson had alienated masters across the age and political spectrum with controversial and unpopular sackings and institutional changes that were undertaken without consulting colleagues. Morale was really low.’
Sources say many of the changes at being driven by Hailz Osbourne, Eton’s director of drama who also has the title ‘director of inclusion education’.
Referring to her, the former teacher said: ‘In my experience the majority of female masters did not feel represented by Hailz Osborne or the equality & inclusion committee.’
Eton, which was founded in 1440 and has educated 20 prime ministers, has insisted it was forced to sack Mr Knowland for ‘legal and regulatory’ reasons.
Addressing the issue for the first time last week, Eton provost Lord Waldegrave, who is chairman of the school’s governing body, said matters had been distorted, insisting: ‘Eton will never cancel debate.’
The former Tory Cabinet minister defended the 580-year-old school’s record on free speech.
He said two barristers had found that the lecture on Mr Knowland’s YouTube channel – which the teacher uploaded online after he was banned from delivering it as a lecture – broke equality law and regulations governing independent schools.
One parent said children were being indoctrinated by a ‘partisan, political’ Woke agenda at Eton College (pictured)
The peer said Eton was left with no choice after Mr Knowland allegedly refused six times to remove it while a solution was found, and he was dismissed for gross misconduct – a decision that is now under appeal.
The provost said: ‘Eton now, as in the past, is a school which prides itself on encouraging open-minded, independent and critical thinking.
‘Boys are encouraged to think about and discuss challenging topics. Eton will never cancel debate. Everyone accepts, including the teacher concerned, that such freedom cannot be absolute.’
Eton College Fem Soc said: ‘We host between 250 – 300 society speakers each year on all manner of topics. These are opt-in events attended by pupils and staff and feedback received on this particular talk was positive.’
On the Good Lad workshops, Eton College said: ‘We have worked with Good Lad Initiative since 2019. All workshop leaders undergo the necessary safeguarding checks and staff are able to attend sections of the workshops alongside pupils.
‘The response to these courses has been overwhelmingly positive and detailed feedback is always collated and considered. Good Lad Initiative has worked with over 250 schools, including high profile independent and state schools.’
Dan Guinness, director of the Good Lad Initiative, said: ‘These activities do not relate to a GLI workshop.
‘The activity described is completely against the training that our facilitators receive and is out of keeping with the values of the organisation and our mission.
‘We have been working with Eton for years, and have yet to receive a single complaint directly from the pupils or school about any of our workshops.’
The School of Sexuality Education said: ‘We were invited to run a workshop for Eton’s Feminist Society on May 22, 2019. It was an evening talk which pupils could choose to attend.
‘The workshop we delivered was very similar to that which we have delivered in many secondary schools across the UK, which is age-appropriate, does not contain sexually graphic imagery and is grounded in the statutory guidance.
‘To date (almost 19 months after the event), we have received no complaints from attendees of the event.’
Video lesson about death of ‘chivalry and honour’ that got English teacher sacked and sparked freedom of speech row
A video of the lecture made by an Eton College teacher at the centre of a freedom of speech row has been posted on YouTube.
English teacher Will Knowland had wanted to deliver a questionable lecture to boys in which he cited incorrect statistics about rape and approvingly quoted an article saying women wanted to be ‘overwhelmed by the sheer power of masculinity’.
In the lecture, named ‘The Patriarchy Paradox’, he claimed the male role as a ‘protector’ benefits society as a whole – including women.
And he warned that ‘shaping men and women to be more similar actually exaggerates their differences’ – which he described as the Patriarchy Paradox.
He says that a world without men would be ‘awful’ for women and complains that chivalry and honour – which he labelled as good male qualities – are being driven down by terms such as ‘toxic masculinity’.
The virtual lecture, which was never actually shown to students at the £42,500-a-year- school in Berkshire, resulted in Mr Knowland being sacked from his job.
Mr Knowland’s lecture The Patriarchy Paradox explores the conflict between the concepts of sex and gender.
He argues that the ‘shaping of men and women to be more similar actually exaggerates their differences’.
Mr Knowland argues that the idea of patriarchy – a social system in which men hold primary power and predominate in roles of political leadership – could be equally grounded in biology, rather than something that is constructed socially.
And he says some women may actually chose the traditional gender roles because it benefits them.