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Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent

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French politician rips graphic sex ed in schools: ‘A lot less sexual abuse’ before its introduction

Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent

February 7, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Sex education should be scrapped from “moral and civic instruction,” French legislator Xavier Breton suggested last week at the Commission for Cultural Affairs of the French National Assembly.

His amendment to a draft of an education law, the “School of Confidence” act, was defeated. Its very existence, though, came as a welcome surprise on the part of a member of the mainstream conservative party, Les Républicains, which has not done much to defend parental rights over the last few years.

His brief explanation accompanying the amendment clearly stated:

“Parents are the primary educators of their children. This principle can be found in every national and international affirmation of rights. Reaffirming this principle requires that schools should not infringe parents’ rights. As regards emotional and sexual education [the French official name for sex ed], which touches upon people’s most intimate convictions, State intervention is not legitimate. As Jules Ferry explained in his own time in his letter to public school teachers: ‘You are an aid and in some ways a back-up for fathers...When presenting a precept or a maximum to your pupils, ask yourself whether to your knowledge, any decent man could be offended by what you are going to say.’ The point of this amendment is to exclude emotional and sexual education from moral and civic instruction.”

During the debate, he also remarked that there was a lot less sexual abuse in schools when there was no “sex education.”

Jules Ferry is known as the “father” of French public secularized education. He promoted secularized, free, and compulsory instruction at the end of the 19th century. After his death in 1893, increased persecution against denominational – and above all, Catholic – schools led by religious congregations set in. These were only to regain the right to reopen over the period between the two World Wars, from 1918 to 1940.

Most Catholic schools in France today are under contract with the state and are obliged to follow a very stringent and detailed national curriculum from primary level to the baccalaureate at the end of high school. Sex education has been compulsory for several decades and was recently reinforced by the minister for Education, Jean-Michel Blanquer. It includes presentations by external “approved” stakeholders such as the French Planned Parenthood association or Estim’, dedicated to helping young people “accept” their sexuality as well as “different” sexualities in others.

Xavier Breton defended his amendment by drawing attention to the growing mistrust in state interference with family life.

“I'm thinking in particular about the hours we spent recently debating on proposed legislation to ban spanking,” he said.

“When you speak of that to our compatriots, telling them that we spend our time here on this sort of subjects...I realize we should be asking ourselves what type of role the State is trying to play in dominating private conscience. This amendment aims to withdraw emotional and sexual education from moral and civic instruction by recalling the primacy of the family in this sphere,” he explained.

The French National Assembly is at present heavily dominated by members of President Emmanuel Macron’s party, “En Marche” (“Onwards!”), and many liberal societal reforms are being implemented.

Breton’s amendment was received with skepticism. The Commission’s chairwoman, Anne-Christine Lang, argued that while families should not be replaced, the State and the National Education authorities should intervene in these issues “because of the increase of all sorts of sexual aggression.”

Recently, a 13-year-old girl living in an ethnic suburb near Versailles reported she had been raped once by three boys of her age in school, and then, a few weeks later, by the same boys plus three others, all aged 12 to 14. While some admitted she had tried to fight them off, several of the suspects told the police she was “consenting.”

Another woman member of the Commission said it was important that “emotional education” be possible at school because the theme of sexuality is never raised in “some families.” She said all children should be taught about their own bodies and they should know “their body is their own, and...they should do with it as they want.”

One legislator called the amendment “disconnected from reality,” deploring that many youngsters “fall victim to sexual abuse while adolescent girls are becoming pregnant very early.” She said that was the reason sex education is so important and needs to be preserved.

Xavier Breton retorted: “I could answer that when there was no emotional and sexual education in schools, there was also a lot less sexual abuse. I would rather raise the question of the increase in sexual abuse. It is not by talking about emotional and sexual issues from a technical angle and in a somber vision of relationships between men and women that we are truly going to give a sense of mutual respect that should exist. On the contrary, we should be asking questions about developments that we are all condemning today: to find out where they’re coming from, to ask whether this vision that is purely abstract and very technical is really the answer….It’s a very complicated subject when confronting a class, as teachers will tell you. When I hear it being said that there are families who are not capable of bringing up the children, well, that is not my conception [of] family: every family is respectable.”

The education minister, who was present throughout the debate, insisted that the present law which obliges all levels from the first to the last grade to have three yearly sessions in sex education must be implemented, adding that it was “absolutely necessary” to prevent youngsters from learning about sex through pornography.

It can be argued, however, that official sex education, apart from the fact that it is the right of parents to educate their offspring on the emotional and moral plane, is in itself often pornographic in its own way. The official curriculum for 13 and 14-year-olds in life science teaches “human reproduction” under the angle of contraception, including how to use a condom or how to contact Planned Parenthood, while high-schoolers are expected to learn that abortion is a “right.”

The minister, Jean-Marie Blanquer, added that school nurses do “critical work in that sphere”: among others, they are allowed to give the morning-after pill to underage girls without parental knowledge or consent.

Xavier Breton’s initiative is all the more remarkable given that Pope Francis himself is backtracking on Church teaching regarding parents’ role as primary educators, especially in the sphere of love and chastity education. During his in-flight press conference on his return trip from Panama at the end of last month, he said: “We must provide sex education in schools.”

In his letter on the Christian family in the modern world, Familiaris Consortio, Pope St. John Paul II said that parents are called to give their children a “clear and delicate sex education” that is “truly and fully personal.” 

John Paul II also insisted on the fundamental right and duty of parents as the primary educators of their children. In Familiaris Consortio n. 37, he wrote: 

“Sex education, which is a basic right and duty of parents, must always be carried out under their attentive guidance, whether at home or in educational centers chosen and controlled by them. In this regard, the Church reaffirms the law of subsidiarity, which the school is bound to observe when it cooperates in sex education, by entering into the same spirit that animates the parents.”

He also insisted that “education for chastity is absolutely essential” to forming young people and children, since it is “a virtue that develops a person’s authentic maturity and makes him or her capable of respecting and fostering the ‘nuptial meaning’ of the body.”



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