Q: Archbishop J, what is Comprehensive Sex Education Guidance?
In January UNESCO, as part of its Education 2030 initiative, issued the ‘International Technical Guidance on Sexuality Education’ in which the term Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) appears. The recommendations contained in the document are cause for great concern.
In and of itself ‘comprehensive sex education’ is a good thing. But the values underlying the Guidance, published in partnership with UNAIDS, UNFPA, UNICEF, UN Women and the WHO, are very different from those of most parents in Trinidad and Tobago. I believe CSE will harm our nation’s children. We need vigilance here.
The 139-page document, which outlines lesson plans for different age groups, states it “promotes structured learning about sex and relationships”. I am shocked that this programme exists anywhere. I am even more appalled that it is being proposed for the children of Trinidad and Tobago.
This is not about being conservative or liberal: it is about protecting the innocence of children and safeguarding childhood. It should be noted that the UN General Assembly has rejected this document.
Rights and Responsibilities
In the Catholic Tradition, the education of children is primarily the responsibility of the parent. The State has a responsibility to ensure each child is educated to standards that are agreed will serve the national good.
Religions have a responsibility to provide schools and educational institutions to assist parents in the education of their children with values and doctrine consistent with their belief.
This threefold interlocking responsibility is the foundation of the relationship between the parent, the Ministry of Education and the Church. A parent in Trinidad and Tobago cannot decide not to educate his/her child but they have a right to decide the values and beliefs they want for their children. This includes what information they want for sex education and at what ages.
The State cannot become a super nanny, abrogating the responsibility of parents; nor can it allow parents to abrogate their responsibility to educate their children.
Comprehensive Sex Education
The Guidance promotes gender confusion, promiscuity, abortion, and sexual rights to children under the guise of sexuality education. Some of the topics for the young age group are simply inappropriate and some are harmful. Fluid gender is one of them.
A child is taught that their gender is different from biological sex; that they can choose their gender. Children are encouraged to ‘try on’ different gender types and to select the one they feel comfortable with.
Sharon Slater, president of Family Watch International (FWI) says, “these guidelines tell children, among other things, that they can choose when to have sex and that their sexual decisions must be respected”. FWI’s helpful analysis “illustrates the manipulative and subtle, as well as not-so-subtle, manner in which these concepts are promoted to children at impressionable ages”.
It shows, among other things, that the Guidance makes false claims about CSE, distorts abstinence, promotes sexual pleasure for children, promotes early sex and promiscuity, promotes transgender ideology, diverse gender identities and family forms, and manipulates values, attitudes and beliefs on sexuality.
The Institute for Research and Evaluation has produced a report entitled: Re-Examining the Evidence for
Comprehensive Sex Education in Schools, Part Two (May 31, 2018). Among other things, the report states: “It is far more likely to see evidence of failure than success in international school-based CSE programmes. There is very little evidence of real effectiveness (sustained effects for the intended population) on any sexual health outcome (pregnancy, STDs, condom use, etc.)”
The Catholic Teaching
The Catholic Catechism (CCC) makes it clear that “Sexuality affects all aspects of the human person in the unity of his body and soul. It especially concerns affectivity, the capacity to love and to procreate, and in a more general way the aptitude for forming bonds of communion with others” (2332).
Again, “It is imperative to give suitable and timely instruction to young people, above all in the heart of their own families, about the dignity of married love, its role and its exercise” (1632).
The real challenge to CSE is that it approaches sexuality as an end in itself and not as a means towards the end of marriage and procreation. It focuses on desire and not on sacrifice. It excites the curiosity and appetite of the young and does not offer them a path to discipline.
In 1995 the Pontifical Council for the Family produced Guidelines for Education within the Family, entitled: The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality. Here are some extracts from these Guidelines:
* Human sexuality is a sacred mystery and must be presented according to the doctrinal and moral teaching of the Church (122.1);
* [Parents must] be aware of their rights and duties, particularly in the face of a state or a school that tends to take up the initiative in the area of sex education or which carry out programmes of sex education by taking the place of the family. (1, 23, 24, 41, 129).
* In passing on sexual information in the context of love, the instruction must always be “positive and prudent” and “clear and delicate”. These four words used by the Catholic Church exclude every form of unacceptable content in sexual education. (126.3).
KEY MESSAGE: It is the parents’ responsibility to educate the young on human sexuality. This needs to be positive, prudent, clear and delicate. It must promote abstinence till marriage and fidelity after.
ACTION: To learn more about the challenge of CSE, go to WarOnChildren.org to view the free online documentary, “The War on Children: The Comprehensive Sexuality Education Agenda,” and go to StopCSE.org for additional information. Also, search for the two documents referred to here: Re- Examining the Evidence for Comprehensive Sex Education in Schools, Part Two (May 31, 2018) and The Vatican document: The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality. Look also for the YouTube video — Parents’ Guide for the Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality.
SCRIPTURE: Rom 12:1–2; 1 Cor 6:12–20