Relationships and sexuality education

 

Sir, – Catholic Archbishop of Dublin Dermot Farrell (“Catholic sex education document acknowledges love is ‘at the heart’ of all families”, News, May 13th) claims that the controversial new sex education document for Catholic-run primary schools is a “resource and not a programme”. Confusingly, however, recently the Catholic Primary School Management Association website stated, “We are very happy to inform you . . . that an RSE (relationships and sexuality education) programme has been developed for use in Catholic primary schools”.

Whatever about the semantics, these materials were clearly prepared and published for use in Catholic-run schools, which account for around 90 per cent of all Irish primary schools. Among the problems with their content is the assertion that the church’s teaching in relation to marriage between a man and a woman “cannot be omitted”. This statement runs contrary to the constitutional definition of marriage as endorsed by over 62 per cent of voters in a recent referendum.

Archbishop Farrell states that Catholic-run schools open their doors to those of other worldviews “in a hospitable, respectful, inclusive manner”. First, these schools are legally obliged to accept non-Catholics. Second, the experience of these families is often markedly different from that of Catholic families. Shunting non-Catholic children to the back of the classroom stigmatises them while also denying them their human and constitutional rights.

Religious teachings should never be imposed on children without their parents’ explicit consent. Education Equality advocates for an approach to education based on human rights, where all children enjoy the same experience of school irrespective of their family’s beliefs. For this reason, we believe that religious instruction and worship should be moved outside core hours on an opt-in basis.

Indoctrination is incompatible with education. At least the Flourish programme can teach us that much. – Yours, etc,

DAVID GRAHAM,

Communications Officer,

Education Equality,

Malahide,

Co Dublin.