Next week in the Dáil the Social Democrats will bring forward their Education (Health, Relationships and Sex Education) Bill 2021 to Second Stage debate.
It was initially introduced last Tuesday by the Party’s spokesperson for, well, practically everything, including Education, Higher Education, Arts, Social Protection, Foreign Affairs & Defence, Gary Gannon.
The Soc Dems Bill is essentially an unimaginative, re-heated, and cliché-ridden extended paraphrase of an almost identical Bill brought forward in 2018 by the socialist trio of Brid Smith, Paul Murphy and Mick Barry, entitled the ‘Provision of Objective Sex Education Bill 2018.’
For while the 2018 Bill sought to “guarantee the right of students to receive factual and objective relationships and sexuality education without regard to the characteristic spirit of the school,” the Social Democrat Bill, wait for it, “seeks to guarantee that young people and children can access relationship and sexual education that is unbiased, fact-based and scientifically accurate in all schools that receive State funding.”
Gannon took specific aim last week at the recent publication of the Flourish resource programme designed by the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference and announced in May 2020.
For him, the fact that the programme includes statements like “the Church’s teaching in relation to marriage between a man and a woman cannot be omitted” from sexual and relationship education, is “controversial.”
Another aspect of the Flourish programme that annoys Deputy Gannon, is that “each section of this programme ends with a prayer of reflection for students to undertake.”
How very dare they! Asking students to pray? In a Catholic school of all places? The nerve.
According to Deputy Gannon, these kinds of practices are equivalent to anti-scientific, anti-rational abominations that simply perpetuate the ‘control and power’ of the Catholic Church.
It is very hard not to laugh at statements such as these when you remember that this, apparently, is a guy who places huge importance on ‘objective’ and ‘non-biased’ facts.
No. The kind of politician who makes statements like that in modern Ireland is more concerned with mythologising and re-framing their political action as a struggle for ‘liberation’ than they are about anything else.
A Gannon as Guevara kind of thing.
Under this Social Democrat Bill, schools will be forced, whether they like it or not, to ‘decouple’ education about relationships and sexuality from “religious influence.”
Again, this is merely another way of telling Catholic Schools that they must drive their ethos out the exit door, never to return.
More importantly, for Deputy Gannon this Bill would place the removal of the rights of parents to withdraw their children from sex education on a statutory basis.
In fact, he was quite explicit about the fact that the Bills entire purpose is to embed within Irish law the nonsensical claims of “International human rights standards” which he claims “do not entitle parents to withdraw their children from sex education where information is objective and impartial.”
For parents who wish to retain that right, Deputy Gannon says to them quite clearly “this Bill would stop that.”
In fact, the Bill also seeks to create what the Social Democrat rather chillingly describes as “a singular, non-biased curriculum prescribed by the Minister.”
This of course would involve an unacceptable (and unconstitutional) transfer of power to the state or to any agency established by the state to force the teaching of a curriculum to children of all ages in explicit contravention of the rights of parents as primary educators.
None of this seems to bother the Social Democrats, however.
It’s almost funny when you think about it.
The Social Democrats and others routinely criticise Ministers of all levels as being incompetent stewards of the state’s resources and as persons incapable of delivering meaningful change; except when it comes to education about relationships and sexuality.
Then they think it only good and proper to gift all power possible to whoever sits in the Ministers chair.
In a similar vein, they also seek to portray themselves as champions of the people-except of course when those people happen to be Catholic parents or indeed any parent who would worry about the level of legislative over-reach involved in proposal such as those contained in this Bill.
Then you are just deplorable. And that’s a fact.