A new Catholic RSE program, and the pace of divestment of faith-based schools, came in for attack in the Dáil yesterday.
Flourish, which is new RSE material for Catholic primary schools, describes sex and puberty as a “gift from God”, and says marriage is between a man and a woman has been developed by the Irish Bishops’ Conference for junior infants to sixth class.
An accompanying document says that there is no such thing as an “ethos free” approach to RSE since it must be rooted in some particular value system.
It says the Catholic school must consider these topics within “a moral framework that reflects the teachings of the Church”.
It adds that the biological aspects of the Flourish programme are entirely in line with the NCCA curriculum, and the programme will be amended, if necessary, when the council’s review of relationships and sexuality education is completed.
Criticising the program, the Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall asked the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar: “Teaching children that relationships can be placed in a hierarchy depending on sexual orientation should be an anathema in any modern republic. Do we really want LGBTQ+ children, who may be struggling with their sexual orientation, to be taught in schools that their relationships are in any way less worthy, meaningful, loving or deserving of respect than their heterosexual peers? That is the inference of this programme.”.
“Sex education needs to be fact based, and facts do not have an ethos.”