UN calls for evidence-based sex education in Ireland. This requires amending the Education Act on ethos.
Atheist Ireland has for years been raising the issue of objective sex education with the United Nations. The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child included the following in its recent concluding observations about Ireland:
Adolescent health (b)
Integrate comprehensive, age-appropriate and evidence-based education on sexual and reproductive health into mandatory school curricula at all levels of education and in teacher training, and ensure that it includes education on gender equality, sexual diversity, sexual and reproductive health rights, responsible sexual behaviour and violence prevention;
The government has no plans to amend Section 15-2(b) of the Education Act 1998, which they would have to do to enable objective sex education to happen.
Section 15-2(b) of the Education Act permits schools to teach curriculum sexual and reproductive education through their ethos. In other words, schools can teach Catholic sex education alongside or integrated into curriculum sex education.
The vast majority of schools in Ireland are publicly funded Catholic schools. These schools can and do teach sexual and reproductive education through the religious ethos of the school. Parents are not aware that this is happening in schools at present.
The Catholic Bishops have Guidelines in place to ensure that any updated curriculum course will be taught by schools through their ethos. For most students this will mean Catholic sex education or no sex education at all.
This issue will not go away. Some teachers may refuse to teach Catholic sex education, but the vast majority of teachers will comply because of Section 37 of the Employment Equality Act. This obliges teachers to uphold the ethos of the Patron of the School.
Schools with a Catholic ethos could continue teaching Catholic sex education during their religious education class. Minorities have a Constitutional right to not attend this class under Article 44.2.4 of the Constitution.
But the Catholic Bishops will continue to indoctrinate as many children as they can while the Minister, Norma Foley fails in her Constitutional duty to have due regard for the rights of all parents under Article 42.4 of the Constitution.
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