Atheist Ireland supports Solidarity’s Provision of Objective Sex Education Bill

Atheist Ireland supports the Provision of Objective Sex Education Bill 2018 that Solidarity has introduced. If passed in the Oireachtas, it would mean that all students in Ireland could for the first time have access to objective Sex Education. This is a policy that Atheist Ireland has been actively promoting.

As it stands now, the vast majority of children in Ireland get Catholic Sex Education, as the Church controls most of the schools and can integrate their ethos into all subjects under the curriculum. This includes RSE at Primary and SPHE at second level. This also happens in ETB schools and colleges.

Solidarity has set up a Petition to support the Sex Education Bill. Please support this petition, as it will help to ensure that all our children have access to their right to objective sex education.

Objective Sex Education – an important right for students

The Department of Education recognises that all children have a right to objective Sex Education. In its Circular Letter RSE 0037 2010 it states that this is an important right for students:

 Access to sexual and health education is an important right for students

At present the Department of Education does not protect this right. It does what it always does in this area: absolves itself of the responsibility, and delegates it to private bodies such as the Catholic Church. It is not good enough for the Department to absolve itself of this responsibility when it already recognises that this is an important right for students.

In Circular Letter 0037/2010 the Department of Education states:-

 1.5. Access to sexual and health education is an important right for students under the terms of the Article 11.2 of the European Social Charter. The Council of Europe European Committee of Social Rights, which examines complaints regarding breaches of the Charter, has indicated it regards this Article as requiring that health education “be provided throughout the entire period of schooling” and that sexual and reproductive health education is “objective, based on  contemporary scientific evidence and does not involve censoring, withholding or intentionally misrepresenting information, for example as regards contraception or different means on maintaining sexual and reproductive health.”

Catholic Sex Education in schools

The vast majority of schools in Ireland are under the control of the Catholic church and its ethos. Even State-run ETB schools and colleges have Catholic sex education.

An example of an ETB with a Catholic sex education policy is Coachford College. Their Sex Education Policy can be accessed here: Coachford College Cork RelationshipsSexualityEducation

Coachford College Cork is under the Patronage of Cork Education & Training Board. This is a section their Sex Education policy. It gives you an idea of what our children are being taught in schools:

  •  The human body is sacred.

  • The human body, since it is sexual, expresses the call of men and women to reciprocal love which is a mutual gift of self: sexuality is an enrichment of the whole person – the body, emotions, and soul – manifests its meaning in leading the person to the gift of self in love.

  • Marriage the natural context, in which this self-giving love in its entirety is possible – because essentially it is orientated both to the loving unity of the couple and to cooperation with God in bringing new human life into the world.

  •  Young people thus will be encouraged to value the gift of chastity, and human sexuality which is also gift.

Most schools do not inform parents that their children can opt out out Sex Education. Parents are not aware of what their children are being taught, as schools never inform them that it is sex education according to the teachings of the Catholic church.

Recommendation of the Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment

The Bill introduced by Solidarity follows on from the Recommendations of the Citizens Assembly and the Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment:

3.2. The Committee recommends that

(a) Improvements should be made in sexual health and relationship education, including the areas of contraception and consent, in primary and post-primary schools, colleges, youth clubs and other organisations involved in education and interactions with young people.

Solidarity’s Bill will fulfill that recommendation, and ensure that this important right for students would for the first time be given practical application in every school in the country.

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