Sinn Féin supports changes in law to ensure that inclusive sex education is delivered uniformly

Sinn Féin supports changes in the law to ensure that inclusive sex education is delivered uniformly across all schools regardless of the religious ethos of the patron. The party has told Atheist Ireland that:

“Sinn Féin share your view that, legislative reform of Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) in schools is long overdue. We know that there are significant variations in the content and scope of RSE across schools, more often than not depending on the school’s ethos.

No child should feel that their identity, their sexual orientation or their family circumstance is lesser, because they are not included in the sexual education programme as prescribed by their school, the ethos of that school or by their teacher. Legislative reform is the only way to ensure that a uniform, comprehensive and inclusive sexual education is undertaken in all schools.

The NCCA are in the process of preparing a new RSE syllabus. We hope that this will improve the quality of sexual education available here. However, we acknowledge that this will not address the fact that religious organisations will still have a significant input in the sexual education programme in many schools.

For too long now, the characteristic spirit clause in the Education Act 1998 has meant that ethos-based schools are free to leave out certain aspects of the curriculum where they believe these do not match the ‘characteristic spirit’ of the school. Due in large part to this outdated legislation, schools are able to pick and choose parts of the curriculum to deliver to their students, meaning many key areas are often being skimmed over or left out entirely.

Young people want to be fully informed and want to know how to be safe in any relationships they have or may have. We must trust young people enough to properly equip them with the skills necessary to feel confident discussing these matters. School is where this process must begin, and we fully support legislative reform to ensure that RSE in all schools is uniform, comprehensive and inclusive for all.”

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Atheist Ireland