Debate Boils Over Sex Education in Catholic Schools

The issue of sex education in Catholic schools has been hotly debated for decades, but with recent well-publicized protests from parents of Catholic school students to the firestorm over new sex-education materials published by the Vatican, things only seem to be growing more intense, leaving many faithful Catholic parents looking for answers.

A group of parents recently raised an alarm over sexually graphic pictures and explicit text being included in their 14-year-olds’ sex-education course at Father Ryan High School in Nashville, Tennessee.

The graphic drawings and detailed information go over the line, say some parents. “What I’ve seen is disturbing,” said one parent, James Bowman, who texted a number of pictures to the Register from the course material that are not fit for print.

While Bowman is careful to say there is “some good information” included in the program, “it doesn’t follow Catholic doctrine,” in that it is far too explicit, especially for a coed setting.

So what is the traditional Catholic teaching on Catholic sexual education?

Pope Pius XII, in his 1951 address “To Fathers of Families,” warns against any program, Catholic or otherwise, which “exaggerates out of all proportion the importance and significance of the sexual element. … Their manner of explaining sexual life is such that it acquires in the mind and conscience of the average reader the idea and value of an end in itself, making him lose sight of the true primordial purpose of matrimony, which is the procreation and upbringing of children, and the grave duty of married couples as regards this purpose.”

Pope St. John Paul II, in Familiaris Consortio, his apostolic exhortation on the role of the Christian family in the modern world, declares that sex education is a “basic right and duty of parents,” which “must always be carried out under their attentive guidance, whether at home or in educational centers chosen and controlled by them.”

The document goes on to affirm “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.”

The document continues to say that “Christian parents, discerning the signs of God’s will, will devote special attention and care to educate in virginity or celibacy as the supreme form of that self-giving that constitutes the very meaning of human sexuality.”

The Pontifical Council for the Family warned about the danger of schools taking the role that parents should play in educating children about sex. “The school, making itself available to carry out programs of sex education, has often done this by taking the place of the family and, most of the time, with the aim of only providing information,” states the council’s 1995 document, “The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality.”

“Sometimes this really leads to the deformation of consciences.”

Read more at National Catholic Register