Advice to Catholic Parents on the Sex Education Bill

First question is: Do you know the material that is already being given to your children? Do you know the outside agencies who are delivering the material? Please find out what is already happening in your school. There are a lot of parents who are horrified when they see the content of classroom material (NOT THE HOMEWORK MATERIAL!) or hear AFTERWARDS about the topics discussed as part of RSE or SPHE. They are horrified to see the pictures and/or PowerPoint presentations and the people who were allowed into their child’s classrooms.

In the West of Ireland we have this group regularly INVITED into our schools! www.bewiser.ie (note on this website how children aged 14-18 years are given a special ‘code’ to encourage them to visit the site). One of the staff, Kate Dawson, is the same researcher calling for pornography literacy to be included in the new RSE curriculum.

There are 2 parts to the concerns around RSE changes in schools:
Sex Education Bill of 2018
Review of the curriculum for Relationships and Sex Education currently underway.

1st Concern: Sex Education Bill of 2018, which is at the 3rd stage of consideration before the Dail.

The Bill can be read in full online at:

https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/bill/2018/34/eng/initiated/b3418d.pdf

Here’s a summary of the bill:

1 . Schools and parents can uphold the ethos of the school except when it comes to relationships and sex education (RSE).

2. The board of management can uphold the ethos of the school except when it comes to RSE.

3. The Minister for Education when prescribing a curriculum for RSE must include:
a) consent to sexual activity
b) different types of sexuality
c) methods of contraception
d) termination of pregnancy

4. The minister of education when carrying out his function can uphold the ethos of the school except when it comes to RSE.

The Bill is currently at the 3rd stage, this means a committee, the Joint Committee on Education and Skills, will now discuss, debate and make amendments to the Bill. This committee has already had private meetings, public meetings began on 22nd January.

All transcripts of debates in the Dail can be viewed here: https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/bills/bill/2018/34/?tab=debates

They are interesting to read, especially comments on introducing specific details of school curriculum into legislation.

Information on how bills pass can be seen here:

https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/visit-and-learn/how-parliament-works/how-laws-are-made/

The Committee have published a report in January 2019 calling for changes to be made to the Education Act so that ethos will no longer be a barrier to the delivery of the RSE curriculum. See “Findings and Recommendations”, page 26+, but especially point 7 https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/committee/dail/32/joint_committee_on_education_and_skills/reports/2019/2019-01-29_report-on-relationships-and-sexuality-education_en.pdf?fbclid=IwAR1zduEktH4UHa0omD6gickilJPicpPJOuc8R9fpeUt9XFX1SZzpmbzz3Z4

The committee call for the inclusion of the following topics in RSE:

  • LGBT relationships
  • LGBT specific sexual health issues
  • Gender identity and the spectrums thereof.

If you are concerned at this you might want to check out what is already taught in your school – lots of this is already delivered to children via SPHE and external agencies.

The Committee also recognises a consensus from witnesses around the need for more education on pornography and abortion in schools.

Second concern: The NCCA reviewing of relationships and sexuality education:

The NCCA were asked to do a major review in April 2018 by the then Minister of Education, Richard Bruton. Their research paper makes for scary reading: https://www.ncca.ie/media/3781/relationships-and-sexuality-education-rse-in-primary-and-post-primary-irish-schools-a-research-paper.pdf

(see Lumen Fidei Institute submission to NCCA)

It calls for a Holistic Sex Education approach, which may sound plausible but has, as it’s primary focus, “sexuality as a..source of satisfaction and pleasure” (page 23). The paper explains that this approach “doesn’t aim to change behaviour. Rather its focus is on behaviour preparation or development.” This is problematic when the behaviour is bad and needs to be challenged! (see page 25). Some of the research used in this paper suggests that “parents’ approach to sex education is ‘future and consequence oriented’ which falls short of the holistic model advocated by WHO”. Of course parents look to the future and the consequence of risky behaviour when it comes to their children! This is a natural instinct and one that protects and nourishes children every day. This is not a bad thing! (See page 38).

The research paper also identified the influence of the Catholic Church as affecting the quality of sexuality education in schools on an international bases (see page 43).

As a result of this paper being published there are calls for a radical overhaul of our RSE program, calls for extreme issues to be discussed, which include “Pornography Literacy” and even Inspectors who will check on the childrens’ learning after the explicit lessons are given.

There are also some recent newspaper articles about the proposed changes which can be on websites of the various daily newspapers.

What can concerned parents do?

If your children are in a Catholic school then the Bishop is the patron. You are protected both by constitutional rights and by Canon Law, as the Primary educators of your children.

1 . Read!

Duty of Catholic schools from the “Federation of Catholic Secondary Schools Parents Association”

http://www.fcsspa.ie/policies/ethos_religion.doc

Vatican Guidelines:

Points 44, 78 and 148 are very interesting. The Years of Innocence are seen to be very important and must not be disturbed!

http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/family/documents/rc_pc_family_doc_08121995_human-sexuality_en.html

2. Send a letter to your Bishop. Include quotes from the Vatican guidelines above. Ask to meet with him to discuss this huge issue and ask for guidance.

3. Send a letter to the priest chaplain of your school, the Board of Management and the Parent’s Association . The letter will have to be read as part of correspondence. A letter could be something like:

Dear X,

I have recently heard about the bill before the Dail regarding enforced Sex Education curriculum. Do you know about this and the impact it will have on our school? Separately there is a review of the RSE program. Are you aware of the extent of the changes and what is proposed?

Yours sincerely,

X

4. Send a letter to your local TDs. Use the recently published letter with a breakdown of the proposed bill. Change it if you need to, to reflect more the needs of your family Include some information on the NCCA review and ask some difficult questions!

5. Here’s a link so you can find your TD!

https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/members/

6. Think about starting a petition with other parents.
Or sign the online petition here http://chng.it/PYqhH8gL

7. Send this information to your friends.