AIDS education seems to be following the same ideological patterns wherever it is introduced. In Britain, a video on AIDS for school students has been adapted to provide “a necessary moral context” for use in Catholic schools, according to columnist Auberon Waugh.
Waugh reports that the accompanying manual “urges Catholic teachers to “correct myths’ about AIDS: ‘It is important for teachers to emphasize that AIDS is not a condition which affects homosexual people only, or even principally (‘a gay plague’). It is not caused by promiscuity, homosexuality or drug addiction.”
Waugh goes on to comment, “If some people choose to believe, against all the evidence, that AIDS is not a condition which principally affects homosexual people, that is their affair, but I do not feel that teachers should be encouraged to spread what appears to be a blatant untruth, however good their intentions. If that is their idea of a moral dimension, perhaps it would be better left out.”
AIDS Education: One man’s dissent
The September 1988 Challenge magazine carried an advertisement in which Joseph Pope, a well-known Toronto Catholic stockbroker, criticized a pamphlet on AIDS education issued by the Ontario Catholic Bishops. The Church in its wisdom, he said, knows better than to accept the current argument that sexual information must be given to the very young in order to prepare them for the hazards of life. To be told that little children are to be instructed in the use of condoms is really too much: it is far better to have people contract venereal diseases than to permit the wholesale debasement of character which comes from the encouragement of prophylactics. The young should be exhorted to be chaste rather than be exposed to the mechanics of impurity.
Pope also made it clear that he regards AIDS as a chastisement for sodomy. He ended with a short paragraph expressing ironic thanks to the bishops for their pamphlet, and saying, “We have received fair warning. We will arrange for our little ones not to attend your grubby little anti-sex lessons on venereal disease, sodomy, contraceptive devices and the like.”
The message was too strong for the Catholic Register. It refused the advertisement on the ground that it would be contrary to the interests of its readership.