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Proposed sex education for Catholic primary schools 'could be harmful', TD warns

A TD says a new sex education programme for Catholic primary schools could be harmful to students...
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

08.51 26 Apr 2021


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Proposed sex education for Cat...

Proposed sex education for Catholic primary schools 'could be harmful', TD warns

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

08.51 26 Apr 2021


Share this article


A TD says a new sex education programme for Catholic primary schools could be harmful to students in some cases.

The 'Flourish' programme describes sex and puberty as a 'gift from God'.

It has been developed by the Irish Bishops' Conference for junior infants to sixth class.

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The resources are set for use in Catholic primary schools, which account for about 90% of all national schools.

Solidarity TD Mick Barry told Newstalk Breakfast it could actually do more harm than good.

"I think if what's taught within [Catholic schools] is not really relevant for the 21st century, or in some cases can be harmful, then I think this needs to be looked at.

"People might think 'That's a bit over the top' - saying that teaching the way the church does on sex education could be harmful - but in the report in the Irish Times this morning, it says the plan is to say that Church teachings cannot be omitted when it comes to discussing LGBT relationships.

"So you have a child in the school who's LGBT, they're sitting there and they're listening to this class being taught by the teacher - and basically what the teacher is saying is that there's one type of relationship here, which is the type that God wants, and there are other types of relationships here which are different.

"I don't think that that's helpful, and I would say that that is harmful".

'Age appropriate facts'

Asked if this type of teaching could be seen as a balance to the sexualisation of society, he suggested facts are the best way forward.

"I think the best antidote to the pornification of sex is objective sex education, where people are given information and the facts - age appropriate absolutely.

"So people should be taught about different types of sexuality, different types of gender, contraception, abortion and crucially - at the heart of it all - the question of consent."

Asked if the Catholic church should not have input into their own schools, he added: "This does raise the whole issue of the need for separation of church and State.

"Let's leave aside the question of primary schools just for a moment and look at secondary schools, senior cycle."

Citing an ISSU survey of 1,500 students in 32 schools, he said: "One-third of students in senior cycle said that they had received no relationship and sexuality education in their course as yet.

"This is happening in Ireland in the year 2021: we don't have appropriate sex education for our young people.

"They key reason... is that you have church control of education - whether either it's treated as an embarrassment and skimped on, or you have skewed teaching where you have students in the class being told that the type of relationship they want is less than the relationship that other kids want because they're LGBT or what have you".

Proposed sex education for Catholic primary schools 'could be harmful', TD warns

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Main image: Young students heading into school in Dublin city. Picture by: Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews.ie

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