Below is a basic letter template that could be used to write to another Catholic Parent regarding the disasterous RSE course in Catholic Schools and the Education Bill 2018.
Letter to Parents
Dear Catholic parent,
Well done on a difficult but rewarding job! Take courage in the fact that you are the best person to advocate for your child. You are the primary educator of your child. This is protected both by our Constitution and by Canon Law, which Catholic schools are bound to abide by.
Firstly, 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! http://www.wiser.ie. 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:
1. Sex Education Bill of 2018
2. Review of the curriculum for Relationships and Sex Education currently underway.
Concern 1: Sex Education Bill of 2018, which is at the 3rd stage of consideration before the Dail.
Here is the Bill:
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 For 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 start 22nd Jan.
All transcripts of debates in the Dáil 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 horrified 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.
CONCERN 2: THE NCCA REVIEW 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:http://www.ncca.ie/media/3781/relationships-and-sexuality-education-rse-in-primary-and-post-primary-irish-schools-a-research-paper.pdf
It calls for a Holistic Sex Education approach, which may sound plausible but has, as its 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 identified the influence of the Catholic Church as affecting the quality of sexuality education in schools on an international basis (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 children’s learning after the explicit lessons are given.
Here are some recent newspaper articles about the proposed changes:
* Pushing boundaries on Sex Ed: https://m.independent.ie/irish-news/education/pushing-out-boundaries-on-school-sex-education-37786717.html?fbclid=IwAR1LhSrf594i5qmgBbeggvOQn1Y_h1uOipsxqLyy3aLGC4LgSXsdGfeKi4M
* Overhaul of Sex Ed:http://m.independent.ie/irish-news/education/overhaul-of-schools-sex-education-programme-is-planned-37636226.html?fbclid=IwAR0IIKmB4nxJKa2rEfQfGc--wglNwW1fVBoIcVOuae7SzIdlQwIYg-WaT1M
* Calls for abortion and pornography to be included in RSE program. * Sex Ed inspectors to go into schools to inspect children’s learning: https://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/special-child-protection-inspections-to-begin-at-schools-next-month-1.3764547?mode=amp&fbclid=IwAR0anQKjN4-MtvzHO2zbmpNYvI9tg5a4nJxsebEXkI1eHHwUGup215Ben0s
* Calls for Porn literacy: https://m.independent.ie/irish-news/education/calls-for-porn-literacy-to-be-included-in-sex-education-to-remove-the-stigma-37787151.html?fbclid=IwAR2PthL1Nh3uH_ke1mUZI1X0z2mlpZTjHXVOn2mlLbdU7bH8j4eLTIOk2ew
SOME QUESTIONS FOR YOU, THE PARENT, THE PRIMARY EDUCATOR.
* All of this is proposed to be talked about without any values/moral/ethos involved.
* How do families instil in their children, their own family value system, if they are not the ones teaching their children about these personal issues of such value??
* Consent plus what? When teaching consent are there any ideals being taught with it? Consent plus marriage? Consent plus committed relationship? Consent plus love? Consent plus fidelity? Consent plus monogamy? Why not? Why deny that consent without anything else is the perfect recipe to feel abused, exploited and used? e.g. Is it ok for a 12year old to be taught that once s/he consents then it’s ok to have sex? What values should we teach with this? Consent plus what? Surely it’s the parents’ job to teach this and pass on their values? Schools cannot teach something contrary to a family’s own values!
* Are you ok for no moral/ethical value system to be taught with all of this knowledge to your children? Or worse still- someone else’s values that you don’t agree with?
Protecting the Age of Innocence
“It can be said that a child is in the stage described in John Paul II's words as "the years of innocence" from about five years of age until puberty — the beginning of which can be set at the first signs of changes in the boy or girl's body (the visible effect of an increased production of sexual hormones). This period of tranquillity and serenity must never be disturbed by unnecessary information about sex. During those years, before any physical sexual development is evident, it is normal for the child's interests to turn to other aspects of life. The rudimentary instinctive sexuality of very small children has disappeared. Boys and girls of this age are not particularly interested in sexual problems, and they prefer to associate with children of their own sex. So as not to disturb this important natural phase of growth, parents will recognize that prudent formation in chaste love during this period should be indirect, in preparation for puberty, when direct information will be necessary” THE PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR THE FAMILY: THE TRUTH AND MEANING OF HUMAN SEXUALITY, point 78.
* Is it ok for children to be given this information even if you feel you’re child isn’t ready? Is it ok for someone else to decide what age appropriate is?
* Is it ok for strangers to talk to your children about sex, even if your child doesn’t want to? With "Inspectors"? Isn’t forcing a child to speak about sex to a stranger abuse?
* People are rightly horrified at the innocence of children being robbed by priests, teachers, parents, relatives. But now we have their innocence robbed at school and we are going to agree to it?
Apart from the immorality, have you read about the effect of Pornography, especially when introduced at a young age? This is something we need to avoid, not encourage or explain away!
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
1. 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.
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 and leadership from him! I have attached a letter that I sent to my Bishop. Use it if it is suits you.
2. Send a letter to the priest chaplain of your child’s school, the Board of Management and the Parents’ Association. The letter will have to be read as part of correspondence. A letter could be something like:
I have recently heard about the bill before the Dáil 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?
3. Send a letter to your local TDs –I have attached a letter that I sent to my TD 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! Here’s a link so you can find your TD!: https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/members/
4. Here's an ongoing petition started by a friend: http://chng.it/PYqhH8gL
5. Send this information to your friends! Copy and paste the information into a fresh email and send it out!
6. Reading for Catholics:
* Duty of Catholic schools from the “Federation of Catholic Secondary Schools Parents association”: http://www.fcsspa.ie/policies/ethos_religion.doc
* Vatican Guidelines:http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/family/documents/rc_pc_family_doc_08121995_human-sexuality_en.html.Points 44, 78 and 148 are very interesting. The Years of Innocence are seen to be very important and must not be disturbed!
7. More Reading - Increased Spending on Sex Education is Counter-Productive:
* From an English research database:http://pure.york.ac.uk/portal/en/publications/keeping-girls-at-school-may-reduce-teenage-pregnancy-and-stis-but-sex-education-doesnt(1f6be004-6220-4a47-ba45-312ecde05564)/export.html
* Research in England shows that reducing spending on Sex education causes teenage pregnancies to drop. https://theconversation.com/spending-cuts-may-have-contributed-to-falling-teenage-pregnancy-rates-77833