In some regions of the world, Catholic teachings on sexuality and gender have been inhibiting more comprehensive, LGBTQ-inclusive sex education programs from being implemented. This post includes two examples, the first which occurred recently, and the second which has just come to our attention.
Scottish Officials ‘Commend’ Catholic Sex Curricula in Public Schools
In Scotland’s Western Isles, controversy has erupted after officials on the Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, the local governing council, voiced their support for sex education materials consonant with Catholic teaching that prohibits lesbian and gay sexual relationships. The Guardian reported:
“The vote came after Church of Scotland ministers on Lewis [and Harris Isle] said parents and teachers were unhappy about Scottish government-backed material on relationships, sexual health and parenthood (RSHP), teaching children about the human body, different gender identities and sexual relationships, pornography and safe sex. . .
“Due to be translated into Gaelic, the official materials would also put children from Christian homes under pressure to ’embrace’ views about gender and relationships which conflicted with their morals, and were not appropriate to their age and stage of development, [Rev. Hugh Stewart] said.”
The impact of the vote will be limited in the deeply conservative region, which still legally bans work and play on Sundays and is led by an all-male council. Rather than a policy change, the motion was only “commending” Catholic curricula that would be LGBTQ-negative. Local jurisdictions and teachers may still choose which sex education program to use, according to The Guardian. In addition, existing policies already allowed parents to exempt their children. But concerns still exist about the vote:
“LGBTQ campaigners in the Western Isles fear the vote will nonetheless put schools under heavy pressure to shelve or delay more progressive, inclusive lessons about gender and relationships, and embolden people critical of official teaching material to complain. . .
“One Hebrides Pride activist, who has three children at school, told the Guardian: ‘I’m now facing the prospect of attempting to provide this education for my children myself at home. I’d much rather my kids be taught the Scottish government-approved RSHP curriculum at school, by a trained and qualified teacher.'”
Ghana Archbishop Urges Country to Reject New Sex Curriculum
Back in 2019, Archbishop Philip Naameh of Tamale said in an interview that a proposed Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) program should not be introduced, reported Radio Angelus:
“Most Rev. Philip Naameh said that, ‘some people are telling me the syllabus is a draft and therefore we will like to appeal to people like you and parents to reject it outright and to make noise about it because this is not for us.’ He further stated that ‘it is a subtle way of introducing this gays and lesbianism thing into our children. We are already struggling to teach morality to our children at all levels in our schools and they want to bring this in. It is unacceptable.'”
The archbishop was joined by other interfaith religious leaders in opposition to CSE, a program sponsored by the United Nations which intends to implement it in six African nations. But, according to the blog The Free Thinker, Cassandra Twum Ampofo, a spokesperson for the government’s Ghana Education Service (GES), has confirmed that CES “has nothing to do with LGBT issues. . .” Ampofo added:
“The GES wishes to assure the general public that no special sessions have been organised or will ever be organised by the GES to train students as advocates for sexual rights, let alone LGBT rights which are culturally, socially, legally, morally and religiously alien to Ghana.”
Educating about sexuality and relationships must be LGBTQ-inclusive today as both a means of building acceptance and providing necessary information to LGBTQ youth. While Catholic schools may have the liberty to use church teachings in their own schools, these ideas which many consider dated and dangerous should have no impact on public education. Government officials must resist interventions by religious leaders, including Catholic bishops, and instead do what is best for young people.
—Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, January 9, 2021