Catholic Medical Quarterly Volume 65(3) August 2015

The Traditional Family and School Sex Education: Questions that need to be asked

Dr Helen Davies, Retired GP

Helen DaviesHow is it we have strayed so far from Christ’s admonition that we go along with what is euphemistically called ‘sex education’ in schools? Introducing this as a school subject allows in reality the imposition of a sexual morality far removed God’s plan for marriage and family life. Who is to decide what is to be included in this subject and how it is to be taught? Who is going to teach it? Are politicians and lobby groups entitled to dictate policy in this area? How are parents going to be able to protect their children from lessons which are not in line with their beliefs?

The idea that parents are not fit or able to help their children in this area as they see fit, has only taken root in the last fifty years, corresponding with the growth of the permissive society and the advent of the contraceptive Pill, legally available abortion and the promotion of homosexual life styles. Heart-rending tales were initially told of young girls not being prepared for the onset of their periods and both sexes unaware of the consequences of sexual intercourse because their parents were unable or unwilling to take responsibility for this, therefore someone else should. This provided a golden opportunity for those with vested interests in the permissive society to get to children in schools under bland-sounding names such as Personal Health and Social Education (PHSE), Sex and Relationships Education (SRE), programmes for the prevention of homophobic bullying and information on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights. In American schools homosexual clubs have been set up, and recently in the UK a lobby group suggested a programme to help children use pornography responsibly.

What is common to all these programmes is that parents are marginalised and the ‘ sexperts’ know best. No value is given to innocence and its role in childhood development. There is no attempt to inculcate the virtues of chastity and modesty, words which are almost out of common usage. The young are exposed to graphic and explicit accounts of sexual intercourse, masturbation, and other sexual practices. They are told how to protect themselves from pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases with condoms, and advised where they can go for help if this protection fails. School nurses give confidential advice on ‘sexual health’ and signpost the availability of the contraceptive Pill and emergency contraception to girls under the age of consent. Add to this the dangers of graphic sensuality on the internet and the lack of moral formation and the young are left without the knowledge or the will to remain chaste.

Is it any wonder then that councillors and social workers in places like Rochdale and Rotherham placed so little value on the crimes that were being committed on underage girls by gangs of Asian men? They considered the race issue more important than saving the girls whom they blamed for being out of control. Desperate parents were denied help and now have to cope with their damaged children. Where are the ‘ sexperts’ now?

So what are the issues?

Sex is not, and should never be, a subject on the school curriculum. It is not possible to control how it will be presented and whose views and beliefs will hold sway. It is not possible to maintain the sense of privacy and respect, so essential to the development of the virtue of modesty, when sex is taught like other subjects in the public setting of a school classroom. Because sexual issues are personal and intimate, children need to learn about them privately and individually from the persons who are responsible for their long-term wellbeing, that is, their parents or guardians. If they are unwilling or unable to do it, they should delegate this responsibility to another person who would act “in loco parentis”, but it would still be done privately and individually, at the child’s request and only when they are ready to receive such information.

Sexual morality is another question and belongs under the heading of religious education in schools. Unfortunately schools now permeate other subjects like literature, history and science with views on sexual morality which are currently politically correct. Discernment on what is right and wrong in sexual behaviour is almost “up for grabs”, largely subject to media coverage, ministerial pronouncements and recent legal changes. Parental rights and belief systems are treated as a marginal issue and the traditional family is undermined. School inspectors can threaten demotion of a school which they do not consider to be following the ‘party line’.

How can parents be helped?

At home parents need to make sure their children do not have unguided access to the internet or television programmes which purvey explicit and corrupting sexual material. When their children ask questions they can answer them simply, only giving them the information which they need at their stage of development. They need to find out what the school policy is on sex education and insist they are informed if and when any classes take place. In the UK at present sex education is not compulsory in primary schools, and parents can withdraw their children from such classes, but efforts are continually being made to have it made statutory, as in state-run secondary schools, by bodies such as the Sex Education Forum. Free schools and academies can have their own policy on sex education, but again parents need to be fully informed what this is.

Children need clear boundaries and parents need to make clear what the moral guidelines of Church teaching are if they wish to pass on the faith to their children. There are books to help them, written in response to the Vatican document “The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality, Guidelines for Education within the Home”, published in 1995.

We can do no less. It is a battle for the minds and hearts of our children. Christ’s most serious injunction in the New Testament was reserved for those who “scandalize my little ones”.

Dr Helen Davies. Retired GP
Special interests: Fertility Education and Natural Family Planning