April 15, 2019 (Calx Mariae) — Sacred Scripture has a great deal to say about education, which starts within the relationship between parent and child, and, in order to be purposeful and true, must also begin with knowledge and fear of the Lord (Prov. 1:7–8, Deut. 11:19, 32:46, Eph. 6:4). This principle of the parent as “primary educator”, who has both the God-given role and responsibility to teach a child “in the way he should go” (Prov. 22.6), has consequently been an established and consistent tenet of authentic Catholic teaching. It is the father and mother, through their participation in God’s work of creation, who have conferred life on their children and have the closest natural relationship with them.
The Church affirms that this God-given parental right and duty is, in the words of Pope John Paul II, “irreplaceable and inalienable, and therefore incapable of being entirely delegated to others or usurped by others”.1 They have the “right to educate their children in conformity with their religious and moral convictions” and “should also receive from society the necessary aid and assistance to perform their educational role properly”.2 This is even more so the case with “Relationships and Sex Education” (RSE), as the government now refers to this most intimate area of our children’s learning and development, especially given the potential influence of such learning not only on children’s health, well-being, purpose, and fulfilment in this life, but their vocation in the Spirit and eternal salvation in the next life.3 Consequently, Pope John Paul II insisted that “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 centres chosen and controlled by them. In this regard, the Church reaffirms the law of subsidiarity, which the school is bound to observe.”4 In The truth and meaning of human sexuality, the Pontifical Council for the Family explained: “Other educators can assist in this task [of education for chastity] but they can only take the place of parents for serious reasons of physical or moral incapacity.” (Section 23)
A SHIFT IN THE CHURCH’S POSITION?
Catholic parents worldwide therefore have been severely challenged by the march of the comprehensive sex education agenda, and, in many countries, the growing imposition, if not virtual takeover, by the state in this sacred area of parental responsibility. Equally disconcerting has been the more than just apparent shift of the Holy See in this important area during the pontificate of Pope Francis. His controversial post-synodal apostolic exhortation Amoris laetitia (2016) overlooks the Church’s previously clear teaching on the matter in its section entitled “Yes to Sex Education” (translated in the English version as “The Need for Sex Education”) (Ch.7). This section does not make any reference to the role of parents in educating their children in the area of sexuality, but only refers instead to the role of “educational institutions”. Pope Francis reaffirmed his position in a recent interview on the plane returning from World Youth Day in Panama (28 January 2019). He stated:
I believe that we must provide sex education in schools. […] But we need to offer an objective sexual education, as it is, without ideological colonization. […] Sex as a gift from God must be taught, not with rigidity. […] I don’t say this without putting myself in the political problem of Panama. But they need to have sex education. The ideal is to start from home, with the parents. It is not always possible because there are so many different situations in families, and because they do not know how to do it. And so the school makes up for this, because otherwise it will remain a void that will then be filled by any ideology.5
The Pontifical Council for the Family also no longer abides by the Church’s perennial teaching. After the promulgation of Amoris laetitia, it published its own sex education programme, titled “The Meeting Point,” in 2016. This programme, which is intended to be taught in schools, in mixed classrooms, and not by parents, has been widely criticised by Catholic and pro-life commentators for its failure to adequately convey Catholic moral teachings, for its secularising approach, and use of inappropriate images. Psychiatrist Rick Fitzgibbons MD, who has worked extensively with Catholic youth harmed psychologically by family breakdown, sexual abuse, pornography, and other consequences of the permissive society, has described the programme as being, “in my professional opinion, the most dangerous threat to Catholic youth that I have seen over the past 40 years”; it “reveals an ignorance of the enormous sexual pressure upon youth today and will result in their subsequent confusion in accepting the Church’s teaching”.6
THE BISHOPS OF ENGLAND AND WALES, AND THE CES
The Bishops of England and Wales, via the Catholic Education Service (CES), have been even more advanced in this agenda. From 1999 until 2008 the Chairman of the CES was Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Birmingham (now Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster). Under the chairmanship of Archbishop Nichols the CES developed a policy that resulted in providing children in Catholic schools, including adolescents under the legal age of consent, with access to abortion and contraception services without parental knowledge or consent, through a state-run confidential advice agency, named “Connexions”.
Also under his chairmanship the CES joined the Sex Education Forum and agreed to policies directly contrary to Catholic teaching and the natural law. Membership of the forum required agreement with the Sex and Relationships Education Framework (2003, reissued 2005), which, for instance, “welcomes” the “diversity of society” in the area of “sexuality”, regards sex education as “an entitlement for all boys as well as girls; those who are heterosexual, lesbian, gay or bisexual”, and requires that children should be given “relevant information” which “is accurate and non-judgmental” about “the potential consequences of unprotected sex” including “abortion”.
In April 2010 the CES, now under the chairmanship of Malcolm McMahon (then Bishop of Nottingham, now Archbishop of Liverpool), appointed as deputy director, Greg Pope, a former Labour member of Parliament, who had an extensive anti-life, anti-family voting record. Pope remained in that post until his promotion, in 2017, to be the Assistant General Secretary of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.
BETRAYAL OF CATHOLIC PARENTS IN ENGLAND
For Catholic parents in England recent developments are bringing the threatened state takeover of their God-given role to a critical new reality, and the conduct of the Catholic Education Service, which should be at the vanguard of protecting their rights, as well as the God-given rights of all parents, has instead been, in certain specific ways, complicit in their betrayal.
In March 2017, Parliament passed the government’s Children and Social Work Act (2017) which made the new subjects of Relationships Education compulsory in all primary schools in England, and Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) compulsory in all secondary schools in England, including faith and independent schools. It was announced that the required content of these new subjects would be subject to public consultation, although from the outset government spokespersons, including the Prime Minister, stated that Relationships Education would be “LGBT” inclusive.7 The government stated that parents would be able to withdraw their children only from the “sex education” parts of RSE at secondary school.
Archbishop Malcolm McMahon, chair of the Catholic Education Service for England and Wales, issued a statement welcoming the government’s announcement that it was acting to change the law:
Relationship and Sex Education (RSE) forms part of the mission of Catholic schools to educate the whole person. Our schools have a long track record of educating young people who are prepared for adult life as informed and engaged members of society, and high quality RSE plays an important part of this.
We welcome the government’s commitment to improving Relationship and Sex Education in all schools. Catholic schools already teach age-appropriate Relationship and Sex Education in both primary and secondary schools. This is supported by a Catholic model RSE curriculum which covers the RSE curriculum from nursery all the way through to sixth form.
We additionally welcome the government’s commitment to protect parental right of withdrawal and involve parents in all stages of the development and delivery of RSE in all schools. It is essential that parents fully support the school’s approach to these sensitive matters. The experience of Catholic schools is that parental involvement is the basis for providing consistent and high quality RSE at home and at school.
We look forward to working closely with the government to shape any new guidance to enable Catholic schools to continue to deliver outstanding RSE, in accordance with parents’ wishes and Church teaching.
Despite the apparently strong statements with regard to parental involvement, it is telling how much the statement conforms, not to established Catholic teaching on the matter, but to the new secular “orthodoxy” and government policy regarding this area of a child’s learning. It is now the “mission” of the school to “educate the whole person” — rather than this principally being the parents’ mission and responsibility. The parent is simply granted an “involvement” in the process, because “it is essential that parents fully support the school’s approach”. There is no reference to the fact that the “right of withdrawal” at this time was only for the “Sex Education” parts of RSE, and, in any case, the government’s actual distinction between “sex” and “relationships” education is still very much unclear. There are echoes of all the key buzzwords of the sex education lobby in the statement — the changes are all about “improvement” and providing “high quality RSE” (by whose criteria?), which is essential to prepare them “for adult life as informed and engaged members of society”, or as the Department for Education puts it, “to support all young people to stay safe and prepare for life in modern Britain”.8 After all, who wouldn’t want our children to be “safe” and “prepared for life in “modern Britain”? Except do we serve them best by preparing them to either counter or conform to those aspects of “life in modern Britain” which are opposed to the Gospel? What will keep them the safest: following the true teachings of the Church in the area of sex and relationships, or following instead the new secular moral code of the LGBT and sex education lobbies?
Leaving aside for a moment the assumption that all Catholic schools in England and Wales offer genuine “Catholic teaching” in every respect, what about the 90 per cent of children, including many Catholic children, who do not attend a Catholic school? Should we be concerned at all for their temporal and eternal welfare? Does the Church not have any kind of mission to evangelise the nation, to shine the light of God’s truth into every corner of public policy?
There is a submissive ghetto mentality here reminiscent of the bishops’ role in the issue over adoption by homosexual couples. The bishops of England and Wales appeared to take the line that, of course we accept that same-sex couples should be allowed to adopt because that was in the Labour government’s manifesto, but we are just requesting a “bit of diversity in the system”, and requesting an opt-out for Catholic adoption agencies when it comes to same sex adoption — even though Archbishop Nichols admitted that Catholic adoption agencies had been giving up children for adoption by single (but active?) homosexuals and also by unmarried but cohabiting heterosexual couples. Moreover, the bishops had no objections to allowing Catholic adoption agencies to refer homosexual applicants to agencies that would place children with homosexual couples.9
Naturally in both practising and freely admitting this highly compromised position there was no witness whatsoever as to why deliberately denying an adopted child the natural situation of having a father and mother was wrong, or why the homosexual lifestyle was wrong. The government regarded such a weak, compromised, and contradictory stance with absolute contempt, brushing it aside and insisting it would be done regardless. All but one of the twelve diocesan adoption agencies either voluntarily closed themselves down or cut their ties with the Church — exactly what the enemies of the Church wanted in the first place.10 This should also perhaps serve as a forewarning to us of what will happen to Catholic schools when the government wants to drive the LGBT juggernaut over a red line that is too far even for the Bishops of England and Wales.
MISSED OPPORTUNITY FOR CHURCH ACTION
The government announced a public “Call for Evidence” in December 2017, which closed in February 2018, concerning what should be the content of the new compulsory subjects. Seeing as this was a public consultation, where numbers clearly matter, one would have thought it might have been a good idea to encourage Catholics, especially Catholic parents, to participate and make submissions? The message from the CES, however, seemed to be that we can just trust and leave everything to them, that everything is and will be fine with Catholic schools, and that everything the government is doing with regard to RSE is positive and can be perfectly compatible with the Church’s teaching. A number of pro-life and pro-family organisations, including SPUC, did, however, campaign hard to rally parents and their supporters to respond to the “Call for Evidence”. This helped contribute to an impressive 23,000 submissions. The government’s reporting on the results of that consultation, however, has been highly inadequate, and what it had produced showed no evidence whatsoever for any claims of consensus, especially from parents, for the agenda it is pursuing.
In July 2018 the government issued its Draft Guidance and Regulations regarding the proposed content and delivery of the new subjects, and simultaneously launched a second public consultation on their acceptability. There was some evidence of the positive impact of campaigning by the pro-life and pro-family lobby. There was an acknowledgement that parents are the primary educators in certain of the matters covered by the new subjects, and that it would be mandatory for schools to consult with parents on RSE policies and programmes. However, where do the parents stand when, following the consultation, they are still unhappy about what the school proposes to teach? Overall the Draft Regulations and Guidance seriously undermine parental rights, and also present a completely one-sided view of human sexuality, marriage, and the family which is contrary to what the Catholic faith teaches.
The children’s programme of study is required to be “LGBT inclusive” throughout and present homosexual relationships and family structures in a positive manner. In primary school, children must be made to understand and accept that families “sometimes” look different from their family, but that they should respect those differences and know that other children’s families are characterised by “love and care for them”; also that marriage, including same-sex “marriage” and civil partnerships, represents “a formal and legally recognised commitment of two people to each other which is intended to be lifelong”.11 In other words, primary school children will have to demonstrate “respect” for the idea and practice of homosexual relationships and not just for the people involved in them, and will be expected to agree that such relationships, including when they have children, are just as valid, positive and beneficial as those based on real marriage.
In RSE at secondary school teenagers will be further encouraged to “explore” their developing “sexual orientation” and “gender identity”. It presents dangerous and immoral lifestyle choices as equally valid as marriage. Abortion is presented simply as one of the available options during pregnancy and pupils will be signposted to contraceptive and abortion services, without any parental knowledge or consent.
The right of parents to withdraw their children from the “sex education” parts of RSE, which the government had promised to retain, has now been removed and replaced only by a “right to request” withdrawal, with the final decision going to the headteacher. Even this much compromised parental right is withdrawn altogether when the children reaches 15, when they will be allowed to overrule their parents’, as well as their headteachers’, wishes if they choose, as they are being given the right to have sex education provided to them by the school. Moreover, it is a statutory requirement for schools “to have regard” to the final published Guidance when delivering the new subjects, which means they have to deliver the required content unless they have a “good reason” not to. The experience of a number of independent faith schools, particularly independent and Orthodox Jewish schools, who have been failed or severely penalised by OFSTED (England’s schools inspection agency)12 for not teaching LGBT issues in a satisfactory way, shows that the fact that LGBT ideology is against the tenets of the Christian, Jewish, or Islamic faith is not considered a good enough reason.
CES CONTINUES TO BACK THE GOVERNMENT OVER RSE
The CES were one of the favoured selected groups listed who had been involved in the deep consultation process with the Department for Education, though that is not to say that they necessarily agreed with all of the resultant Draft Guidance. However, their public statements so far have expressed only support for the government’s plans.
Following the publication of the Draft Regulations and Guidance in July 2018 the CES issued another press release again stating that the Catholic Church “welcomes” the government’s moves to “improve” Relationships and Sex Education, as well as how “the government had used the Catholic model curriculum as examples of best practice”. It also “welcomes” how “the recommendations are clear that the right for parents right of withdrawal [sic] will be maintained”, even though the Draft Regulations only allow parents the right to request withdrawal, with a right to refuse being given to the headteacher. It also welcomed that “schools with a religious character” will be able to deliver RSE “within the tenants [sic] of their own faith”.13 However, the Children and Social Work Act (section 34:3(b)), as well as the Draft Regulations, only stipulate that “the education is appropriate having regard to the age and the religious background of the pupils”, which is open to interpretation and a much weaker requirement than such teaching needing to be in line with the “tenets” of a particular faith. A school may “have regard” for the fact that a pupil comes from a Catholic family, but still deem it necessary to teach the pupil things that do not conform to the tenets of the Catholic faith. The Draft Guidance uses similarly vague language and also adds that “schools must ensure they comply with the relevant provisions of the Equality Act (2010)”. OFSTED inspections have interpreted that to mean a school must clearly teach about active homosexuality and transgenderism in a positive light, so that children who may identify themselves by one of the “protected characteristics” do not feel marginalised or discriminated against, and that children are adequately prepared for “life in modern Britain”. For instance, in May 2017 Vishnitz Girls School, an Orthodox Jewish primary school, failed its third OFSTED inspection in a year specifically because the school acknowledged that it did not teach its young children (aged 3–11) about homosexuality and transgenderism. The original report stated that “the school’s approach means that pupils are shielded from learning about certain differences between people, such as sexual orientation. […] They acknowledge that they do not teach pupils about all the protected characteristics [of the Equality Act 2010], particularly those relating to gender re-assignment and sexual orientation. This means that pupils have a limited understanding of the different lifestyles and partnerships that individuals may choose in present-day society.”14
Christian schools have also been targeted by OFSTED. Pupils at Grindon Hall Christian School and Durham Free School faced intrusive questioning on transsexualism, homosexuality and same-sex “marriage” by OFSTED inspectors, who then claimed that they found evidence of “homophobic behaviour” in both schools — a claim rejected by staff, pupils, and parents. Despite the outcry, The Durham Free School was closed down in April 2015 and Grindon Hall — one of the best performing schools in the North East — was rated “inadequate”, and was forced by the Department for Education to be taken over by a secular trust.15
A further public consultation (July–Nov 2018) was announced regarding the Draft Regulations and Guidance for the new subjects. However, rather than initiating a campaign to encourage Catholics, and others who attend Catholic schools, to participate in this consultation, so that protections for parents could be genuinely safeguarded, the CES had already embarked on a mini-PR campaign in support of government policy, with an article which appeared on the CES website and the Catholic press informing us that the government’s proposals were only to be welcomed, that there was nothing to worry about, that Catholic schools already do a fantastic job teaching RSE (in line with the Church’s teaching), and, falsely, that the government is committed both to allowing faith schools flexibility to teach according to the tenets of their faith, and protecting the parents’ right of withdrawal.16
Given the content of the government’s Draft RSE Guidance it is very hard to conceive of how a Catholic school can deliver the subjects in a way which “has regard to the Statutory Guidance” whilst still in conformity with the tenets of the Catholic faith. The CES’s current “model policy for RSE”, which the CES boasts has been praised by the Department for Education, features an uncomfortable mix of Catholic teaching with elements of the statutory SRE Guidance (2000) and contemporary secular sex education programmes shoehorned into it. So at Key Stage 1 (ages 5–7) children are to be taught to “identify and correctly name their ‘private parts’”; and at KS 2 (ages 7–11) they are taught “that similarities and differences between people arise from several different factors (see protected characteristics of the Equality Act 2010, part 2, ch. 1, sections 4-12)”. In other words, they are taught about “sexual orientation” and “gender reassignment” (LGBT issues).17
The ambiguity of elements of the policy at the very least allow scope for teaching which is not in accordance with the faith. For example, the RSE secondary school policy stipulates teaching children about “recognising and valuing their own sexual identity and that of others”, or to “ensure RSE is sensitive to the different needs of individual pupils in respect to […] their own sexual orientation”.18 This is especially the case when we have had the scandal of homosexual lobby-group Stonewall being invited into Catholic schools and colleges to train teachers on how to deal with “homophobic bullying”.19
Although the model RSE policy stresses that “teachers will be expected to teach RSE in accordance with the Catholic Ethos of the school”,20 and the CES proclaims its confidence that authentic Catholic RSE is and will continue to be taught in Catholic schools, even after 2020; it is not clear, judging by some of the recent publications of the CES, that the CES has the same idea as many Catholic parents, or the perennial teachings of the Catholic Church, about what exactly the “tenets” of the Catholic faith are when it comes to human sexuality and the teaching of RSE.
BISHOPS AND CES PROMOTE LGBT IDEOLOGY IN SCHOOLS
An RSE guide for Catholic educators published by the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales in 2017, entitled Learning to Love, declares its admiration for Pope Francis’ Amoris laetitia, as “an inspirational document, rich with insights and fresh descriptions of the Church’s teaching on this vital subject”.21 On the subject of homosexuality, the Bishops’ Learning to Love offers its own “fresh description” of the Church’s teaching:
Here we would like to emphasise that this exalted form of love exists just as powerfully in relationships between people of the same sex as it does in heterosexual relationships. We applaud the great progress that has been made in countering all forms of discrimination against homosexuality in recent times, and wish to collaborate with efforts to make such discrimination obsolete. (p.17)
Note that we are now talking about “discrimination against homosexuality” as something that should be countered, as opposed to “unjust discrimination” against homosexual persons as the Catechism states (2358). “Homosexuality” itself has now been transformed from an “inclination, which is objectively disordered” to what can be an “exalted form of love”; and what does it mean “to collaborate with efforts to make such discrimination obsolete”? To actively promote the LGBT and Pride agenda? To shut down freedom of speech on the issue and persecute Christians and others who try to speak the truth about homosexuality?
An even more pernicious document is Made in God’s Image: Challenging homophobic and biphobic bullying in Catholic schools, a joint publication by the CES and St Mary’s University, Twickenham — first published in 2017 and which has even been given a second edition, without any major alterations, despite its deep and scandalous conflicts with the Church’s teaching being widely pointed out by commentators.22
Under the guise of “guidance” for the “pastoral care of pupils”, Made in God’s Image is designed to intimidate Catholic schools into introducing a concerted LGBT indoctrination programme for children, in the form of an eight-lesson scheme of work. The sum of the message that children will take away from this is that being “lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender” is part of their God-given purpose and identity, an integral part of being Made in God’s image, something that must be celebrated, and that any true Catholic should act to report and help robustly stamp out any sign or attitudes of disapproval. An example from the introduction illustrates the strategy being taken:
The Church teaches that homosexual persons ‘must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity’ (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2358). The School should be mindful that the Church teaches that homosexual inclinations are not sinful. For older pupils who may publicly identify themselves as such, Church schools should be havens of respect and custodians of the true dignity of each human being. They should be as attentive to the possibility of homosexual pupils being marginalized and bullied as they are to discrimination based on religion, gender, race or disability.23
Although the Church does indeed teach that involuntarily experiencing same-sex attraction is not itself a sin, the Catechism also adds that the inclination itself is “objectively disordered” (2358), and that authoritative Catholic teaching has also always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered”, “basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity” (2357). The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has instructed bishops that “although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder.”24 There is no mention of this in the document, or indeed any mention whatsoever of Catholic doctrine on marriage, or any attempt to present the true meaning and purpose of human sexuality between man and woman. Indeed the only thing presented as sinful (although it does not directly employ the term “sin”) is the new sin of “homophobia” which “should have no place among Catholics. Catholic teaching on homosexuality is not founded on, and can never be used to justify homophobic attitudes”. In one of the word games that children are encouraged to play “homophobia” is defined as:
A range of negative attitudes and feelings toward homosexuality or people who are identified or perceived as being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT). It can be expressed as antipathy, contempt, prejudice, aversion, or hatred, may be based on irrational fear, and is sometimes related to religious beliefs. (p.16)
Notice again how, as with Learning to Love, it is negative attitudes towards “homosexuality”, and not just “homosexual persons”, that is condemned here. And “homosexuality”, according to the Catechism at least, refers to “relations” between same-sex attracted men or women, including “homosexual acts”. Conveniently, if not outrageously, the actual word of God on the subject of homosexuality is never quoted or referred to.
It is undeniable that a deliberately misleading sleight of hand is in play throughout, with the document’s omissions and selective quotations from both Catholic documents and the Bible. That such a secular and distorted presentation of human sexuality, saturated with LGBT ideology, is being presented to children is hardly surprising when, as has been widely pointed out on Catholic blogs and by at least one English bishop, much of the material has been lifted directly from pre-existing propaganda programmes from Stonewall and LGBT Youth Scotland.25
Chillingly, Made in God’s Image even offers lesson material which encourages children to judge and challenge their own parents’ and families’ attitudes, based on provided examples of expressions of “homophobia”, including typical comments made whilst watching television programmes. It is ironic that a document purported to be concerned with “anti-bullying” engages in a highly pernicious form of bullying against faithful Catholic children and their parents by labelling them “homophobes” and “bigots”.
The pro-LGBT Made in God’s Image programme is said to have been prompted by a survey conducted by the CES on “homophobic” bullying in Catholic schools. However, the small print reveals that only 12 per cent of Catholic schools responded to this survey — the whole justification of this programme therefore being based on completely unrepresentative data (p. 31). Catholic headteachers would have been rightly reluctant to respond as the survey itself was ideologically loaded and intimidating (employing the un-qualified terms “homophobic” and “transphobic” throughout), with questions posed in a way that would make it very difficult for a faithful Catholic to respond, without compromising Christian truths on issues of sexuality.
WHERE ARE WE HEADING?
So where does this all leave us for the future if this agenda remains unchallenged? Scotland and Wales already show where the direction of travel is going in the immediate future. As a statutory part of Wales’s new curriculum which will be in place from 2022, the Welsh government announced that it is introducing “LGBTQI+ -inclusive Relationships and Sexuality Education” for all learners aged 5–16. Kirsty Williams, Welsh Education Secretary, has stated: “The days of traditional sex education are long gone; the world has moved on and our curriculum must move with it. […] Of course, thirty years on from the introduction of Section 28, we will also ensure that RSE is fully inclusive of all genders and sexualities and meets the needs of LGBTQI+ learners.”26
The Welsh government is adopting the recommendations of a specially commissioned report on the future of SRE in Wales produced by an “SRE Expert Panel”, headed by Prof. Emma Renold of Cardiff University, a sociologist whose research on child sexuality, as her university profile informs us, is characterised by “feminist, queer and post-humanist approaches”. Neither the Catholic Church, nor any other faith groups, were represented in the “expert panel” — no doubt they were not invited to be. The Catholic Bishops of England and Wales have issued no response to what is an all out assault on the childhoods of all Welsh children, including those of Catholic families.
“Post-humanism”, by the way, is one of the latest pseudo-intellectual fads of western academia. In the same way that “gender” and “sexuality” are regarded as mere social constructs, and therefore open to deconstruction, so now too is the very notion of what it is to be a “human being”. The “natural” distinctions between human, animal and machine are also regarded as arbitrary boundaries to be explored, redefined and transgressed. It should not be too hard to envisage the even more disturbing future of “sexuality” once such last remaining taboos have also been removed.
The Scottish government has so far gone the furthest in Britain along this trajectory, having proudly announced recently that Scotland will become “the first country in the world to have lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) inclusive education embedded in the [whole] curriculum” — not just in relationships and sex education.27 Naturally if ideological indoctrination is to be truly effective then thought must be controlled at all times, and not just within the confines of certain lessons. Unbelievably this development was also “welcomed” by Scottish Bishops, who added that they hope the “impact of these recommendations will be positive for all.”
So how should parents respond in the face of this situation? For times like this God tells us to “rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer” (Rm. 12:12). We should hold on more strongly than ever to the fact that God Himself has still ordained us to be the primary educators of our children, a right which as Pope John Paul II reminds us “is irreplaceable and inalienable”; that the right of parents to bring up their children to know, love and serve Him is His holy will. Scripture tells us to “be strong and courageous”, to “not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you” (Deut. 31:6). “Where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more” (Rm. 5:20), and we are now seeing encouraging signs of a strong and powerful parents’ rights movement rapidly rising up to confront what Church officials have been unwilling to confront.
This is an issue which unites many people of different faiths and none. For instance, a Parliamentary petition concerning the parental right of withdrawal from RSE recently gained in excess of 100,000 signatories, which resulted in a Parliamentary debate on the petition in February 2019. Many Muslim parents, in particular, have provided an example of peaceful, but vocal and resilient parent power, with hundreds of parents witnessing weekly outside Parkfields Primary School, Birmingham, where their children were being subjected to an LGBT propaganda programme called “No Outsiders”.
This is a time for faith, not fear or compromise. In that spirit SPUC Safe at School has recently launched a major campaign in defence of the parental right to withdraw their children from Relationships and Sex Education and it has already gained tremendous support from parents from different backgrounds and communities. To find out how you can become involved visit: www.spuc.org.uk/rsebriefing
Dr Tom Rogers is the SPUC Education Manager. He has been working full-time for the pro-life cause since 2016. An academic and educationalist, he previously lectured in English literature at University, and has also taught in the secondary and further education sectors. He is the author of God of Rescue: John Berryman & Christianity (2011). He is married with two children.
- John Paul II, Apostolic exhortation Familiaris consortio, 22 Nov 1981, 36.
- Charter of the Rights of the Family, presented by the Holy See, 22 Oct 1983, Article 5.
- Familiaris consortio, 37.
- Familiaris consortio, 37; Charter of the Rights of the Family, Article 5, c.
- Diane Montagna, “Pope Francis: ‘We must provide sex education in schools’”, LifeSiteNews, January 28 2019; https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/pope-francis-we-must-provide-sex-education-in-schools
- Rick Fitzgibbons MD, “Psychiatrist: The Vatican’s sex ed is the most dangerous threat to youth I’ve seen in 40 years”, LifeSiteNews, 2 September 2016; https://www. lifesitenews.com/opinion/exclusive-the-new-threat-to-catholic-youth-the-meeting-point
- For instance, Nick Gibb MP, stated in response to a Parliamentary question (3 July 2017) that “we expect schools to ensure that all pupils, whatever their developing sexuality or gender identity, feel that relationships and sex education is relevant to them and sensitive to their needs. As part of our engagement programme, we will consider ways to ensure that our guidance and regulations are inclusive of LGBT issues. We plan to work closely with organisations such as Stonewall and the Terrence Higgins Trust, amongst others.” Prime Minister Teresa May affirmed her support for ‘LGBT inclusive’ RSE in English schools in her speech at the Pink News LGBT Awards 2017.
- Department for Education, “Policy Statement: Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education, and Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education”, March 2017, (p.1).
- The then Archbishop of Birmingham, Vincent Nichols, made these comments and admissions over two interviews with Jon Snow (Channel 4 News) and Jeremy Paxman (BBC 2 Newsnight) on the evening of 23 January 2007. See also “Birmingham Archbishop: ‘Oh by the way,’ Britain’s Catholic Adoption Agencies Already Adopt to Gay Singles”, LifeSiteNews, 29 Jan 2007; https://www. lifesitenews.com/news/birmingham-archbishop-oh-by-the-way-britains-catholic-adoption-agencies-alr; “UK Catholic Bishops Compromise on Gay Adoption Leads to Charges of Hypocrisy”, LifesiteNews, 23 March 2007; https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/uk-catholic-bishops-compromise-on-gay-adoption-leads-to-charges-of-hypocris
- Only Leeds-based Catholic Care in the diocese of Lancaster continued until forced to shut down. See Hilary White, “UK Catholic Church Agency to Cease Adoption Work As government Forces Homosexual Adoption”, LifeSiteNews,July27,2007; https://www.lifesitenews. com/news/uk-catholic-church-agency-to-cease-adoption-work-as-government-forces-homos
- See learning outcomes on pp.16-17 in Department for Education, “Draft Statutory Guidance on Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education and Health Education”, July 2018; https://consult.education.gov.uk/pshe/relationships-education-rse-health-education/
- The Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills is a non-ministerial department of the UK government, reporting to Parliament.
- Catholic Education Service, “Catholic Church welcomes move to improve Relationship and Sex Education in all schools”, Press release, 19 July 2018: https://catholiceducation.org.uk/component/k2/item/1003657-catholic-church-welcomes-move-to-improve-relationship-and-sex-education-in-all-schools
- OFSTED, “Vishnitz Girls School: School Progress Monitoring Inspection Report”, 10 May 2017 (ref. 138516). Note, following the justifiably negative publicity on publication of this report, OFSTED subsequently replaced the original report with a redacted version (ref. 138515_5) on its website — one which had removed any direct references to ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘gender reassignment’, hence attempting to conceal the real reason why the school was failed.
- For a summary and further details of these and similar cases, see The Christian Institute, “OFSTED and ‘British Values’”, June 2017; available online at: https://www. christian.org.uk/resource/ofsted-british-values/
- Catherine Bryan, “Why Relationship and Sex Education is a must for all Catholic schools” [online article], Catholic Education Service, 20 June 2018; https://www.catholiceducation.org.uk/component/k2/item/1003652-why-relationship-and-sex-education-is-a-must-for-all-catholic-schools. The same article also appeared in “The Catholic Times”, 15 June 2018, (p.28).
- See learning outcomes 188.8.131.52 (p.7) and 184.108.40.206 (p.4) in Catholic Education Service, “A model Catholic Primary RSE curriculum”, Autumn 2016; http:/catholiceducation. org.uk/schools/relationship-sex-education
- Catholic Education Service, “A model Catholic Secondary RSE curriculum”, Autumn 2016 (pp.3-4); https://catholiceducation.org.uk/schools/relationship-sex-education
- For instance, it was reported that St Mary’s Catholic Primary in Wimbledon invited Stonewall to train staff on homophobic bullying “in order to comply with OFSTED requirements”, and subsequently became a Stonewall “Primary School Champion”. “Gay rights group called in to advise primary teachers”, Evening Standard, 15 May 2013; https:/www.standard.co.uk/news/education/gay-rights-group-called-in-to-advise-primary-teachers-8616681. html. It has also been reported that students training to be teachers were subjected to a Stonewall-run session on ‘homophobic bullying’ at the Catholic St Mary University, Twickenham; https://spuc-director.blogspot. com/2013/06/stonewall-scandal-at-catholic.html
- CES, “Model Catholic Secondary RSE curriculum”, 2016 (p.7).
- “Learning to Love: An Introduction to Catholic Relationship and Sex Education (RSE) for Catholic Educators” (2017), Department of Catholic Education and Formation and Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales; https://www.catholiceducation.org.uk/images/ Learning2love.pdf.pdf
- Catholic Education Service, “Made in God’s Image: Challenging homophobic and biphobic bullying in Catholic schools”, 2018 edn; https://catholiceducation.org.uk/ images/CES-Project_Homophobic-Bullying-Booklet_ JUN18_PROOF-9.pdf. For comment see, for instance, Deacon Nick Donnelly, “UK bishops’ group pushing radical LGBT propaganda in Catholic schools”, LifeSiteNews, 18 May 2017; https://www.lifesitenews.com/opinion/ uk-bishops-group-pushes-radical-lgbt-materials-in-catholic-schools. Also, Bishop Egan of Portsmouth has commented on the ‘ideological colonisation’ at work in our schools, including the influence of Stonewall and LGBT Youth on the CES’s “Made in God’s Image” document. Deacon Nick Donnelly, “Interview: UK bishop questions LGBT involvement in Catholic schools’ sexed program”, LifesiteNews, 22 May 2017; https://www.lifesitenews. com/news/interview-english-bishop-questions-lgbt-involvement-in-catholic-schools-sex
- CES, “Made in God’s Image” (2018), section 2, (p.5).
- Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (signed by Cardinal Ratzinger), “Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of the Homosexual Persons”, 1 October 1986; https://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_ cfaith_doc_19861001_homosexual-persons_en.html
- As pointed out, for instance, in three 2017 blog posts by the “Counter Cultural Father”: https://ccfather.blogspot. com/search?q=Made+in+God%27s+Image; See also Bishop Egan’s comments in an interview in LifesiteNews, 22 May 2017; https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/interview-english-bishop-questions-lgbt-involvement-in-catholic-schools-sex
- Welsh government, “Kirsty Williams announces focus on healthy relationships in major reforms to ‘Relationships and Sexuality’ education”, Press release, 22 May 2018; https://gov.wales/newsroom/educationandskills/2018/ kirsty-williams-announces-focus-on-healthy-relationships-in-major-reforms-to-relationships-and-sexuality-education/?lang=en
- Scottish government, “LGBTI education: Scotland will lead the way in inclusive education”, Press release 8 Nov 2018; https://www.gov.scot/news/lgbti-education/