Wednesday 10 February 2010

Catholic Education Service has helped draft the government's anti-life/anti-family sex ed draft guidance

The department for children, schools and families (DCSF) has drafted new guidance on sex and relationships education (SRE). The department's press release says, among other things:
  • "the key issues essential to effective SRE [include] [h]elping young people ... to respect the choices other people make regarding sex and relationships".
  • "Secondary school pupils will ... learn how to avoid unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections when they do become sexually active"
  • "SRE ... allows young people to make well-informed decisions"
That the above points are thinly-veiled promotions of homosexuality*, contraception and abortion is confirmed repeatedly - and far more openly -  in the draft guidance's 62 pages, which I shall detail below. The department's press release accompanying the draft guidance quotes Oona Stannard of the Catholic Education Service (CES) of England and Wales saying:
"Today's draft guidance for SRE is a positive step forward."
The press release also reveals that:
"The list of stakeholders involved in developing the draft guidance were as follows ... Sex Education Forum ... Catholic Education Service ... Teenage Pregnancy Independent Advisory Group ..."
The Sex Education Forum includes, and is run by, Britain's pro-abortion and anti-family lobby: the Family Planning Association (FPA), Marie Stopes International, Education for Choice, Brook, Stonewall, The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement and British Humanist Association. Regarding the Teenage Pregnancy Independent Advisory Group (TPIAG), I have blogged before about its anti-life/anti-family recommendations on sex education, accepted by the government. I have also blogged how the TPIAG has used the CES's support for compulsory sex education to claim (falsely) that the Catholic Church supports it, too. I pointed out how the CES is not the Catholic Church but a bureaucracy with no doctrinal status.

Oona Stannard and the CES has thus gotten together with Britain's anti-life/anti-family lobby to help draft the government's anti-life/anti-family sex education guidance.

The draft guidance explained

Freedom of schools to teach pro-life/pro-family values

The draft guidance says (1.6) that :
"[Under] the provisions in the CSF [Children, Schools and Families] Bill ... there would be no ‘opt-out’ from the statutory content [of SRE]"  
So far, we know that the "statutory content" under the CSF bill (clause 11) includes a principle that SRE
"should be taught in a way that:
  • endeavours to promote equality
  • encourages acceptance of diversity, and
  • emphasises the importance of both rights and responsibilities.
I have blogged before about how these principles reflect the recommendations of the Teenage Pregnancy Independent Advisory Group (TPIAG) I predicted then that the government will use those principles to advance its anti-life/anti-family agenda in schools. The draft guidance bears out my prediction, even more than I expected.

Ultimately, it will be up to the courts to decide what is or isn't "statutory content" under the law. However, as the guidance makes clear:
"Head teachers and governing bodies are required by law to have regard to the guidance"
a requirement which is repeated in the CSF bill (clause 12). 

Schools will therefore have to prove that what they teach in SRE not only accords with the bill's principles (above) but that they had "regard" to the government's guidance. The guidance is so insistent in its promotion of anti-life/anti-family concepts that it places pro-life/pro-family schools in an almost impossible situation. How will a school which doesn't teach those concepts prove that it upholds the bill's principles, having regard to the guidance? We can expect any such school to be pursued vigorously. By helping draft the guidance and by welcoming it as "a positive step forward", the CES is once again selling Catholic schools down the river.

Religious beliefs

The draft guidance also insists (3.1) that:
"Schools should make a clear distinction between factual information and views and beliefs."
I have no doubt that this has been included to deter schools from teaching amongst other things that life begins at conception. The government, in accord with the pro-abortion lobby, wants people to believe that the beginning of life at conception, the right to life of unborn children etc are simply private religious beliefs, which should be subordinated to so-called "factual information". (This mindset is clear from the repeated references to religion in Gordon Brown's letter to MPs on embryo research in March 2008). Ed Balls, the secretary of state, has said:
“Some faiths have a view about what in religious terms is right and wrong – what they can’t do though is not teach the importance of tolerance”.
and confirmed that faith schools should be forced to teach that homosexuality is normal and harmless, saying:
"If their faith has a view in scripture, they can inform pupils of that. What they must not do is teach discrimination. They must be absolutely clear about the importance of civil partnerships"
Abortion and contraception

The draft guidance says (3.1):
"[SRE] should also cover responsibilities to protect the sexual health of oneself and others"
It is thus clear that the government expects schools to teach pupils that that they have a duty to use condoms. Thus the draft guidance insists (1.3) that:
"[I]t is vital that all young people have information about contraception"
The government believes this information is vital because it believes sexually-active young people should use contraception, contrary to Catholic teaching. That such provision is not limited to information, and not limited to contraception, is made clear at 3.1:
"Information provided by schools should reflect the latest medical evidence available on topics such as: the efficacy of different contraceptive methods in preventing unplanned pregnancies and STIs; and pregnancy choices."
This clearly means that the government expects schools to help pupils select the most effective abortion and contraceptive techniques. This is made even clearer at 2.2.2:
"SRE should also increase pupils’ knowledge and understanding at appropriate stages by:
  • learning how to avoid unplanned pregnancy and STIs including learning about contraception and infection avoidance
  • learning about pregnancy and the choices available
  • learning about the range of local and national sexual health advice, contraception and support services available
That is clearly designed in a way which facilitates abortion and contraception. Lest there is any lingering doubt that this would apply to faith schools, readers should note that the government accepted in November the TPIAG's recommendation that:
"all schools including faith schools must teach all aspects of SRE within the context of relationships in an anti-discriminatory way; contraception, abortion and homosexuality are all legal in this country and therefore all children and young people should be able to learn the correct facts"
The draft guidance (3.1) says:
"SRE should: provide children and young people with information about their right to confidential advice and support on sex and relationships." (3.1)
"[S]chool nurses, youth workers, Connexions personal advisors and sexual health professionals have particular areas of expertise that complement the SRE curriculum ... SRE is a good opportunity for school nurses to meet students to talk about how they can access individual confidential advice and support when needed." (3.4.2)
That is clearly linked to the government's expectation that schools will facilitate secret abortions without parental knowledge or consent. Connexions, a government agency whose staff facilitate such abortions, has been welcomed into Catholic schools by the CES.

Pro-abortion material approved

The draft guidance recommends (2.6.2) the "Speakeasy" programme to help parents talk to their children about sex. "Speakeasy" is produced by the Family Planning Association (FPA), Britain's main pro-abortion group and the national affiliate of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), the world's largest promoter and provider of abortions.


The draft guidance says (2.4):
"The evidence is conclusive that SRE does not increase rates of sexual activity or sexual experimentation in young people ... ‘[C]omprehensive’ programmes of SRE, covering a broad range of topics including factual information about contraception, sexual health services and sexuality and where the programme is coordinated with young people friendly confidential advisory service, have a positive impact on young people’s sexual behaviour ... International evidence-reviews [show that] [m]any of the comprehensive programmes had a positive impact on young people’s sexual behaviour but none of the abstinence-focused programmes had a positive impact"
The teaching of so-called comprehensive sex education in schools is one of the pro-abortion lobby's goals. The draft guidance thus promotes the type of sex education promoted by the pro-abortion lobby, and rubbishes abstinence education.

Sexual practices

The draft guidance says (3.1):
"SRE should promote awareness, respect and understanding for the wide range of practices and beliefs relating to sex and relationships within our society. Many people still face unacceptable prejudice and discrimination on the basis of their sexuality ... and intolerance towards difference needs to be challenged ... SRE should support pupils to value differences between people, to challenge stereotypes ..."
An anonymous young person is then quoted, saying:
"As a gay person, it was as if I didn't exist."
Apart from the obvious promotion of homosexuality here, there is nothing to say that "the wide range of practices" couldn't include paedophilia or bestiality (the latter is being promoted in a Spanish sex education course)

Further detail on what the government expects schools to teach

The draft guidance goes into detail about what should be taught to, and expected of, pupils at the different key-stages. At key stage 2 (ages 8 to 11), pupils should be taught
"To recognise and challenge stereotypes"
asking themselves:
"What is ... homophobic bullying and what skills do I need to do something about it?"
Pupils should also be able to answer the question:
"How does the sperm and egg meet during sexual intercourse and can conception be prevented?"
It should noted that many, if not most, of the pupils at this key-stage will not have started puberty. The Church's key document on sex education, The truth and meaning of human sexuality (Pontifical Council for the Family) has made clear that:
  • "Homosexuality should not be discussed before adolescence unless a specific serious problem has arisen in a particular situation."
  • "As regards sterilization and contraception, these should not be discussed before adolescence..."
Yet one wouldn't know that from the CES, as The truth and meaning of human sexuality isn't even referred to on the CES's website.

The draft guidance says that at key stage 3 (ages 11 to 14), pupils should be taught via:
"the clarification of personal values".
Tim Matthews of the National Association of Catholic Families (NACF) has explained how "values clarification" was invented to eradicate from education any concept of right and wrong, such as the wrongness of abortion or of particular sexual practices. At the same key-stage, pupils will be taught to answer:
  • "What are sexually transmitted infections, how are they transmitted, treated, tested and prevented (including condoms)?"
  • "What choices does a woman have if she gets pregnant, including keeping the baby, abortion and adoption?"
  • "What are the different types of contraception including emergency contraception and how are these used?"
  • "What can I expect from contraception and sexual health services and where and when are these services available?"
Key stage 4 (ages 15 and 16), pupils will be taught how to answer:
  • "What are the features of different methods of contraception and what protection do they offer in terms of STIs and pregnancy?"
  • "Is responsibility for contraception and protection shared in relationships and how can responsibility be negotiated?"
  • "How can I contribute to challenging ...homophobia ...?"
  • "What sexual and reproductive rights do I have as a young person (including rights relating to information, healthcare, confidentiality and the law)?"
  • "What is the full range of services, help and information available to me including local contraception and sexual health services?"
So here we have anti-life and anti-family cornucopia of ideas:
  • "sexual and reproductive rights", by which the government means abortion on demand
  • abortion as a woman's choice
  • easy access on demand to abortion clinics
  • girls taught how to induce early abortions via the morning-after pill
  • condoms prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases
  • objections to homosexuality as normal silenced.
The government thus expects all state schools, including Catholic schools, not only to teach a panoply of anti-life and anti-family dogmas, but to do everything possible to facilitate anti-life and anti-family practices. I am repelled by the fact that an agency of the Catholic Church, the Catholic Education Service, has helped draft this guidance and has welcomed it as "a positive step forward".

In the latest Catholic Herald, Oona Stannard claims that:
"The Catholic Education Service for England and Wales is fully committed to the promotion of the sanctity of life, in accordance with the teachings of the Church"
In fact, the CES is engaged in a systematic betrayal of the Catholic Church and of all this country's children, Catholic and non-Catholic, born and unborn.

Addressing the Pontifical Council for the Family on Monday, Pope Benedict said:
"Jesus' harsh words against those who scandalize one of these little ones (cf. Mark 9:42) commit all to never lower the level of this respect and love [for children]. That is why the Convention on the Rights of Children was also received favorably by the Holy See"
The scandalizing of born children and the destruction of unborn children (contrary to the Convention) is exactly what the draft guidance is designed to achieve.

*(The reason why the Catholic Church's teaching on homosexuality is so important for the pro-life cause can be found in Pope John Paul II's Evangelium Vitae. In paragraph 97, Pope John Paul teaches that it is an illusion to think that we can build a true culture of human life if we do not offer adolescents and young adults an authentic education in sexuality, and in love, and the whole of life according to their true meaning and in their close interconnection.)

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