Leaving sex-ed up to libraries is a risk for parents

Wokeism might be described by its advocates as raising awareness of hidden disadvantage and discrimination in our communities, as they affect specific ethnic and sexual minorities. Another view, closer to my own, would be that wokeism is about stoking up grievances for bygone injustices to further the abolition of established norms based on traditional systems of belief and thought.

Under wokeist diktat, the notion that there is a cultural ‘mainstream’ doesn’t exist. Culture is a many-hued rainbow, and every expression deserves equal space and status. So, minorities, according to this thinking, must be promoted and prioritised to contrive the balance that the vision requires.

This agenda is playing out in plain sight in our schools and libraries. However, it is masked, as real agendas often are, by claims to objectivity, expertise, and of course compassion and tolerance.  Representing, or claiming to represent, victim groups also brings with it its own kind of privilege, in that it can make questioning seem mean-spirited, if not downright bigoted.  As a result, it is not surprising that parents take so much on trust especially when it is channelled through their local school or library.

A booklet on relationships and sexuality currently available to pick up in our public library network courtesy of the HSE, and a clutch of state funded outfits, Healthy Ireland and Healthy Ireland at your Library, should be a wakeup call to anyone who exercises even a modicum of due diligence.  It sets out what it calls a ‘Healthy Ireland Reading List’ for age groups running from 0-5 to 13-19.  The list for children aged up to five has three titles. The first called Tom’s Power Flower is an inoffensive enough explanation of how babies in the womb grow from a seed, like a flower. It does not explain how ‘a man helps a woman to make the small baby seed’ so that statement seems an odd place to conclude the lesson. It might seem a lot odder to many parents that the HSE thinks it appropriate to prompt that question in little minds.

The two other recommended books are focussed on family and parenting diversity.  The ‘Great Big Book of Families’ ‘ theme is that today there are as many family types as colours in the rainbow. The notion that the nuclear family is the norm, or even most common is pointedly missing.  Instead, it is presented as a rather obsolete idea. This book is about cultivating children’s perceptions of family based on what they are taught rather than on what most of them experience. Most peoples’ definition of ideological indoctrination in a nutshell.

If there was any doubt that the purpose of this initiative is about anything other than re-shaping children’ attitudes to family and parenthood, according to the woke gospel, the third book, And Tango Makes Three, penned by a gay American couple, should convince everyone but the hopelessly naive. It is the tale of two male adult penguins, Roy and Silo, who are given a penguin egg to hatch by the zookeeper. The baby that emerges is called Tango and a ‘family’ is born. Not alone is same sex parenting celebrated but the notion of surrogacy is seeded as a good and natural thing in tiny minds.

If all that seems more like a programme of inculturation than straightforward birds and bees instruction, the reading list for 8-12 year olds raises even more serious questions. The author of two of the eight books on this list is Dr Christian Jessen. Probably most Irish parents never heard of him but they should know that the same Dr Jessen was the subject of a BBC Panorama programme in 2018 which revealed his involvement in a private online pharmacy, UK Meds, which allowed people to purchase potentially dangerous prescription drugs online. Due to a legal loophole, the company can’t be regulated because of the involvement of third party doctors in Romania.  Interestingly too, Dr Jessen, a gay, atheist, humanist, is patron of Humanists UK who advocate for secularism in public life.

It is worth asking, at least, then, whether Dr. Jessen can be said to be an appropriate person to present ‘objective, factual information on sex and relationships’ – which is precisely what the government declared it wants taught in our schools. Dr Jessen has an ideological agenda riding on his educational output. This is precisely the objection many politicians and secularist commentators had to the Irish Bishops’ RSE programme Flourish. It offered information within a values framework so could not be inclusive, they said. Is it not clear enough that any programme about sexuality and relationships is necessarily grounded in a system of values? Under the Irish Constitution, it is not government, not activist groups, not ideologue experts, not libraries who get to choose the values within which children are educated – that choice is reserved to their parents

Two other books on the short list for 8–12-year-olds (one for boys and another for girls) are by Alex Frith, a prolific children’s writer. They include a discussion on gay sex. Remember, this is in a book for 8-12 year olds. Again, parents might wonder how appropriate such discussion is for children at such a formative, early stage of development.

When it comes to exploring beyond the books list provided, parents are referred to the National Parents’ Council (NPC,NPCPP) for further help. Also listed as providers of ‘courses and support’, are the Irish Family Planning Asssociation, BeLong To Youth Service and Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI). The NCP’s webpages do not list the provision of such courses. Parents might wonder why such emphasis is placed on organizations like TENI, who take an extreme view in relation to how children with gender issues should be treated, as appropriate sources of sexual and relationships education for young, developing minds.

Parenting is already a highly pressurised project currently. More and more, the state and its agencies are supporting parents in this complex and all-consuming task. Not too surprising to find that parents trust those who claim to rely on experts, or present as experts. In a simpler, less frenetic age parents were shrewder because there was no one else to look out for their children but themselves..

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