Our January front page featured the copy of a questionnaire on contraceptives and condoms used in a Grade 10 class in Notre Dame Catholic High School in Welland, Ontario.
We also reported that the Public Health Nurse had explained various contraceptive devices to the students and gave them a choice of three answers to a question about abortion. Furthermore, we noted that no Catholic teaching accompanied this class presentation.
In the same issue we printed a news report of a scathing attack on modern sex education by American author Randy Engel.
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Our purpose was clear: we want to draw the attention of parents and teachers alike to the fact that even in Catholic schools family life education seems to be increasingly ‘accommodated’ to the standards of the world. Those standards are not the standards of the Catholic Church. If Catholics allow this trend to develop then there will be no reason to have separate schools.
The sloe purpose of a separate school system for Catholics is to teach children necessary knowledge and skills for daily life, but always in a context of handing on the Christian faith and culture to new generations, as well as knowledge of the doctrine and standards of behaviour necessary to be a good and wise citizen. The same rationale exists for other faith communities who seek to do the same by means of private and independent schools.
Two questions come to mind which have a direct bearing on the issue. Firstly, how widespread is the trend for values accommodation in the Catholic system? Secondly, what is the trend in the public schools?
In the past The Interim has carried a number of articles about sex education and child abuse programs. These have demonstrated that the anti-Christian, anti-life thrust, as well as a mistaken psychology is so pervasive in these programs as to make them dangerous for the normal user.
Moreover, the current climate of sexual immorality is so dominant that only strenuous personal efforts on the part of teachers, especially in regard to their faith and personal salvation, can keep them in the right frame of mind when handling this material.
Over the last decade the battle within the public school boards has centered on whether or not to install condom dispensers. Some school boards have said yes to one or other, while others have said no.
A second factor in public schools is the Public Health Nurse (PHN) who teaches the sex education courses. The PHN, in turn, is answerable to Ministries of Health, where the anti-life philosophy of the worldwide Planned Parenthood organization is the dominant influence. The Interim’s two articles on the 1990 and 1991 Sex Education Conferences in Guelph, Ontario, for example, have detailed the totally unacceptable character of this philosophy. (See Sylvia McEachern, “Sex gurus brazenly plan how to corrupt youth,” in our December 1989 issue and Jakki Jeffs, “Our young people betrayed,” in the February 1991 edition of Insight.)
How widespread is the trend for ‘accommodation’ to Planned Parenthood-type standards in Catholic schools?
The best answer, perhaps, is to say that it is growing.
We have received copies of questionnaires similar to those of the Welland one from several places such as Owen Sound and Pembroke, the latter being longer and using cruder language.
In Pembroke the questionnaire was used in 1990 at a Grade 9 class at Bishop Smith High. Wrote our correspondent:
“After a father of one of the pupils complained to the principal and noting happened thereafter, we made it public at one of our meetings, where a press and TV reporter were present. What is most saddening is the apathy of the public. We thought there would be an outcry, but nothing happened although the local TV station flashed excerpts from the sexuality questionnaire on the screen. Not having any support, except for a handful of good parents, we found out it is impossible to fight the system.”
There is a general frustration among knowledgeable Catholic parents throughout the country. In Ottawa, Edmonton, Regina, Kingston, Niagara Falls, North Bay and elsewhere, some parents have battled school boards over the subject for a decade or more.
These discussions and confrontations have touched upon other issues. One is the right of parents to oversee the kind of education they think is necessary for their children. (See for example, “Trustees backpedal on policy,” March 1991 Interim, page 20).
Another is a tendency among some teacher organizations to lend support to dissent from Catholic teaching. (See The Interim, March 1991, pp. 20 and 21).
New turn of events
The controversy has taken a new turn (for the worse) with the admission from the York Region Separate School Board – a rapidly expanding board of 38,000 students on the northeastern edge of Toronto – that is has been teaching and recommending the use of contraceptives and condoms starting in Grade 7 for at least a year.
Today – with the help of the Toronto-based Institute of Catholic Education under Rev. Dennis Murphy – it is seeking official approval for such policy from the RC Archdiocese of Toronto. The reason given for the new ‘policy of honesty’ – it has been called – is the supposed threat of AIDS to students.
This development is a replay of the condom controversy of 1987 and 1988 when governments decided to embark upon massive advertising campaigns to promote condoms (Ontario’s former Liberal Health Minister Elinor Caplan ???? spent $5 million on such a campaign).
They argued that
• AIDS has created a tremendous crisis;
• Condoms provide ‘safe sex’;
• Schools and other institutions must take preventative action. (In reality, in Canada AIDS affects only a few people, almost all of them homosexuals, and condoms provide no real safety for them at all.)
In this edition of The Interim we present a collection of articles bearing upon all these issues.