KINGSTON, Jamaica, May 17, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Jamaican Minister of Education, the Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, has given a resounding "No" to a proposal to have condoms freely distributed in schools.
The suggestion was made by the chairman of the country's National Family Planning Board, Dr Sandra Knight.
Thwaites made it clear that Jamaican schools were not "romping shops" during the 2013/14 Sectoral Debate held at Gordon House in Kingston on May 15.
“This government, lead by this Prime Minister, lifts up to our children, the ideal of faithful love and marriage between a man and a woman, as the basis of a family, even as we insist on tolerance and love for those who are disposed towards homosexuality.”
"Let it be clear, we will not be grooming children towards same-sex unions, and we will not be distributing condoms in schools," Thwaites said.
"Restraint must be taught by example and precept,” he stressed. “Sex education, yes; condoms no,”
The reference to homosexuality arose from a controversial section of the Education Ministry's "Health and Family Life Curriculum" that included graphic sexual content describing homosexual sexual activities.
It was pulled from schools last year after public outrage from parents and teachers.
In response, Thwaites ordered a revision of the sex-ed program to make it “positive, value-laden and age-appropriate” after admitting that "at least two persons involved in the drafting of the [original] curriculum had a particular agenda and were able to embed it in the curriculum."
The Jamaican National Family Planning Board has been pushing for condoms in schools for many years.
Teachers and parents opposed the newest prophylactic proposal, as well.
By distributing condoms in schools, "we are saying that it is fine for children to be having sex,” Esther Tyson, a teacher, wrote to the Jamaica Gleaner. “Being sexually active, however, means that you are ready to be a parent, since no contraceptive, especially the condom, is foolproof. How can we legalize children having sex when they cannot support themselves economically, nor are they mature enough to be parents?"
Both sides of the Jamaican political spectrum agreed the public school contraception program was ill-advised.
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In an interview with the Jamaica Observer last month, Opposition Leader Andrew Holness said the position he took against the suggested distribution of birth control in schools in 2008 when he was education minister has remained the same.
"School is not a dispensary for prophylactics; we distribute knowledge and information. The health sector can if they so choose to do; they have trained personnel to distribute condoms," Holness said.
"It is inappropriate, I believe, to the majority of Jamaicans and parents, too, to have the school become a dispensary," the Jamaica Labour Party leader said.
Thwaites, who is also a Roman Catholic deacon at St. Martin de Porres Catholic Church in Gordon Town, St. Andrew, said that while the education system acknowledges that many children are initiated into sexual activity during their classroom years, he notes that "some of the mass media, the Carnival Culture, and confused family values are among forces which have weakened the truth that premature sex was the thief of true love."
He said that with the revised curriculum, guidance counselors and their counterparts in the schools and community health-care systems will “know what to do when a student is in danger of sexual abuse.”