(Social Justice South Africa; c.f. LifeSiteNews (Catholic; Independent; Canadian) 23 / 02 | February / 2010 ; The Telegraph (British; Independent; Secular; Conservative) 23 / 02 | February / 2010; BBC World News (Secular; Governmental; British) 19 / 02 | February / 2010; The Guardian (British; Independent; Secular; Secularist; Liberal; editorial) 23 / 02 | February / 2010; LifeNews 01 / February / 2010; LifeSitenews (Catholic; Independent; Canadian) 01 / 02 | February / 2010; Catholic Culture (Catholic; Independent; American): The Contraception Misconception)
Article by Marc Aupiais
"Sex and relationship education - who does what?
Age 5-7 - puberty, relationships and how to keep safe
Age 7 - 11 - puberty, relationships including marriage, divorce, separation, same sex and civil partnerships and managing emotions and dealing with negative pressures
Age 11 - 14 - Sexual activity, human reproduction, contraception, pregnancy, STDs including HIV/Aids and high risk behaviours, relationships, including those between old, young, girls, boys and same sex
Age 14 - 16 - Body image and health, choices relating to sexual activity and substance misuse, and the emotional well-being, reducing risk and minimising harm, parenting skills and family life, separation, divorce and bereavements, prejudice and bullying"(BBC World News (Secular; Governmental; British) 19 / 02 | February / 2010)
Causing much concern to papists and loyal Catholics throughout the world, including our own editor, who Lambasted the Catholic Bishops of England and Whales, Labour and the Liberal Democrats, in his column "The Tempest and The Hurricane", Labour has introduced a bill to force Catholic schools to teach the virtues of homosexuality, abortion, extra-marital sex, contraception et al.
Much of the media attention from the BBC, the Independent, and The Guardian media groups, has called for stricter and harsher treatment of religion, even than in the current bill.
Catholic schools will be made to inform students how to procure an abortion, an offence incurring automatic excommunication under the current code of canon law. Further, they will be made to promote abortion, and Homosexual "Civil Partnerships" (de jure homosexual "marriage") in schools. A new amendment pushed through yesterday, will allow Catholic schools to additionally teach what their religion does on the matters, but not in such a way as to treat homosexuality or the other issues concerned as wrong. Supporters of the push against religious schools, such as one writing an editorial for the Guardian, have expressed disappointment that the Catholic schools can still note as one view among many, that extramarital sex is a sin in the Catholic religion, however this ignores that while this belief may be noted, it may not be promoted.
An editorial calling for stricter measures against Catholics in the Guardian said:
"So it's great to see that the government has taken the initiative to make sex and relationship teaching mandatory from a much younger age. Hopefully this new legislation will ensure that schools have to teach children age-appropriate information about relationships including marriage, same sex and civil partnerships, divorce and separation; and in later years, sexual activity, reproduction and contraception. It is fundamentally important that children and young people can obtain this information without prejudice.
So, why, with this progressive new legislation, is there an amendment that means faith schools can adapt it to suit their beliefs? Ed Balls, the schools secretary, says in a letter to the Guardian that "faith schools will not be able to opt out of statutory lessons on sex and relationship education"; but if his argument that the "bottom line is that all young people should receive accurate and balanced information, and discrimination is prevented in all schools", how can teaching that sex outside marriage is wrong, or that contraception is bad, or that homosexuality is a sin, be seen as "balanced" information? Surely that will contradict the guidance provided as part of the sex education curriculum? And how does faith school teaching about sex fit in with the idea of tolerance or equality?
Balls may believe that conceding to the religious lobby was the best way of getting this legislation passed; but it undermines the progress made, and gives support to prejudiced misinterpretations of sex education.
Brook, the young people's sexual health charity, is more optimistic about this amendment. Spokeswoman Jules Hillier says: "We're hopeful that the ethos of the bill, which stresses diversity and equal opportunities, will mean that all schools will need to take a balanced approach to the teaching of SRE."
It is arguable, I suppose, that without this amendment, and with pressure from the religious lobby, this bill might not get passed – which would be a great shame, because it will impact young people in many positive ways for years to come. It's an enlightened government that dares to remove the right of parents to opt their children over the age of 15 out of sex education and enforce mandatory lessons in the subject in the majority of schools in the UK. So overall, it's a move in the right direction, albeit not quite far enough."(The Guardian (British; Independent; Secular; Secularist; Liberal; editorial) 23 / 02 | February / 2010)
The sex education will be compulsory, parents of children over age 15, will not be allowed to withdraw their children from the classes, as they currently are able to do.
It recently emerged that the Catholic Education Service (CES) in Great Britain, directly assisted in the crafting of the bill, and Ed Balls, the minister pushing the bill has directly thanked Archbishop Vincent Nichols, in charge of the English Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, along with the CES for their support of the bill. It was believed by both sides that without the support of the church, that this bill would otherwise be facing much greater obstacles in getting passed.
The BBC notes the Catholic Education Service website, which the CES referred the BBC to as their comment:
" [The CES] pointed to a document on its website which said teachers would need to act wisely, "mindful that the teachings of the Church must be upheld in our Catholic schools and the innocence of children preserved".
It continued: "This must take place whilst also acknowledging pupils will often be encountering conflicting messages from external sources.
"This is an example of where good teaching will need to respond to the maturity of children and the environment in which they live, coupled with respect for the dignity of all human persons, upholding the Church's teachings."
Under the plans, all schools are to be required to teach children aged seven to 11 about relationships including marriage, same sex and civil partnerships, divorce and separation under Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education.
Secondary school pupils are to learn about sexual activity, reproduction, contraception as well as same sex relationships.
Clauses in the Children, Schools and Families Bill require schools to cover these issues in an "accurate and balanced" way, reflecting a reasonable range of religious, cultural and other perspectives and the religious and cultural backgrounds of the school's pupils.
The subject is also to be taught in a way that promotes equality, accepts diversity and emphasises both rights and responsibilities, the Bill says.
This requirement could have been problematic for schools governed by religions that are specifically opposed to homosexuality and contraception."(BBC World News (Secular; Governmental; British) 19 / 02 | February / 2010)
The BBC then notes that the amendment passed Yesterday, may allow a school to water down elements of teaching, according to its religious character. The minister pushing the legislation has however directly denied this claim. Stating what our article already has noted, that schools would still have to promote the government agenda, even if on the side noting religious beliefs.
Editorially: While all my formal training is in South African and Roman and Roman Dutch law, my understanding, of this legislation, is that both the teachers concerned and likely the schools' important staff, will latae senitae (as if sentence were already passed by the very act: automatically) be excommunicated from the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. As regards the English Bishops' co-operation in forcing abortion on Catholic schools, one is lead to question where ecclesiastical law would put these individuals.
Damien Thompson, blogs editor for the Telegraph, wrote on the fact that not a single voice of the hierarchy of England and Whales has been available for comment on this issue. An odd silence from a body which the pope had desired stand up for Catholic doctrine and morals in Great Britain, when he addressed them on their Ad Limina visit earlier this year.
In contrast to the Bishops Conference of England and Whales, Scotland's Cardinal Keith O’Brien, responding to claims by Catholic Labour member Jim Murphy, the Scottish Secretary, that labour could harness religious votes, slammed Labour egregiously.
"In a stinging rebuke to Jim Murphy, Cardinal Keith O’Brien said he could not think of a “tangible example” of the Government embracing the views of the Catholic Church in the past decade.
“Instead we have witnessed this Government undertake a systematic and unrelenting attack on family values.
“This is a charge I personally put to Gordon Brown when we met in 2008 and I have seen no evidence since then to suggest anything has changed.”
The leader of Scotland’s 750,000 Catholics then listed a series of new laws that have been passed despite the objections of the church and other faiths."(The Telegraph (British; Independent; Secular; Conservative) 23 / 02 | February / 2010)
This push in Great Britain- to promote contraception in schools, comes shortly after a study questioning the effectiveness of such education was released by the applicable journal of the American Medical Association: Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, quite recently:
"The study found that the probability of [... subjects in the program] having sexual intercourse [prior the end of the study] was approximately 15 percentage points lower among teens in the abstinence-only program than those in condom-promoting courses or those undergoing no sex education.
The study randomly assigned 662 African-American students (average age 12.2) to participate in one of four programs: abstinence-only intervention; safer-sex–only intervention targeting increased condom use; comprehensive interventions targeting both sexual intercourse and condom use; or a control intervention focusing on health issues unrelated to sexual behavior.
The researchers found that the probability of ever having sexual intercourse by the 24-month follow-up was 33.5 percent in the abstinence-only program and 48.5 percent in the control group attending health promotion courses. Rates in the safer sex and comprehensive programs did not differ significantly from the control group.
In addition, fewer students in the abstinence-only group (20.6 percent) vs. those in the control group (29 percent) reported having sex in the previous three months during the follow-up period. The abstinence-only intervention did not appear to affect rates of condom use. The eight-hour and 12-hour comprehensive programs appeared to be associated with reduced reports of having multiple partners when compared with the control group.
The authors of the study, which was supported by a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health, concluded that theory-based abstinence-only interventions "can be part of [the] mix" of methods to reduce sexually-transmitted infections among teens."(LifeSitenews (Catholic; Independent; Canadian) 01 / 02 | February / 2010)