A group representing parents from across the country have expressed surprise and “some unease” at proposals suggesting that young primary school children be given talks about contraception.
The group Hands Off Our Kids say that it should not have been a matter of controversy that a school did not wish to talk to children in national schools about contraception. Spokeswoman Áine Murphy said that she felt the majority of parents would not think contraception was a subject required for children aged 5 to 12, and that a push towards more explicit sex-education for young children was causing concern for parents.
Her comments came after a controversy arose when Education Equality, a group which campaigns to diminish religious ethos in schools, highlighted a letter to parents in Lacken National school in Wicklow which said that teachers would not be talking to children about “contraception and same-sex friendships”.
“This is an area of growing concern because there is a cohort of campaigners and politicians who seem to have a very fixed view regarding what should be taught to our children,” she said. “That includes a push, becoming more evident all the time, to teach children that biological sex isn’t real and that they may be non-binary, which can only cause confusion. Why can’t children be left with some innocence in schools? No-one objects to them having age-appropriate information, but that doesn’t seem to be what’s happening here.”
“There seems to be an assumption that this is something to do with a Catholic ethos, but I’m not Catholic and I don’t think it’s appropriate to have schools talk about contraception to young children. What does that mean in practise, that young children would be given demonstrations regarding how to use a condom or shown a video on the same?” she asked.
“I think a lot of parents would feel uneasy about the rush to sexualise young children, and many of us think that primary school children should be given appropriate education but not have values imposed on them by RSE programmes which force kids to grow up too fast.”
Gript asked Education Equality to clarify whether it was their contention that contraception should be taught to primary school children – and, if so, in what class in primary school do they believe contraception should first be taught. The campaign group was also asked if they had a programme in mind to teach primary school children about contraception.
No response was received.
Ms Murphy pointed to the “All About Me” syllabus, which was rolled out at over 200 primary schools in the UK and had led to outcry when it taught that children should learn that “lots of people like to tickle or stroke themselves as it might feel nice” including their “private parts”.
Then UK primary school syllabus reassured children that masturbation is “really very normal” but that wasn’t “not polite to do it when other people are about”, recommending instead that children wait until they are alone, such as “in the bath or shower or in bed”.
She also said that other developments, such as a Labour councillor telling a recent meeting in South County Dublin that “babies masturbate for pleasure” had caused parents growing concern.
Ms Murphy also said that she could imagine that it was difficult for schools when people of all faiths and none had conflicting values, and that was being ignored.
“We saw in the UK, for example, that Muslim parents took serious issue with what they saw as overly-explicit sex education or RSE programmes that conflicted with their values, and perhaps its time for a genuine disscussion around whether schools should leave these matters to parents, who are the primary guardians of their children,” she said.