While the Vatican is embroiled in its own battle against gender politics in Italy, the Cuban bishops are facing a similar dilemma, and have issued a statement criticising a resolution that would make so-called “gender ideology” part of school curricula.
The bishops argue that the resolution is unscientific in that it denies basic biological differences between men and women, and also takes from parents the ability to educate their own children in the sensitive matters of sexuality.
Drafted by the state National Centre for Sex Education (CENESEX), the new Resolution 16/2021, which is being put forward by the Ministry of Education is entitled, “Program of Internal Education in Sexuality with a gender approach and sexual and reproductive rights in the National Educational System”.
In article four, the resolution establishes the need to “strengthen, from a holistic and positive vision of sexuality, the process of comprehensive sexual education with a focus on gender and sexual and reproductive rights in educational institutions and modalities”.
In a message released for Father’s Day, published after the Cuban bishops’ plenary assembly in Havana last week, they said gender ideology, while claiming to be scientific, is “a closed system of thought”.
“It holds that the differences between men and women, appreciable in their anatomy, psychology, and genetics, among other things, do not correspond to the constitutive nature of the human person, but are merely cultural and conventional constructions, made according to roles and stereotypes that each society has assigned to the sexes,” the bishops said.
The bishops’ resistance to the resolution comes after their public opposition to ‘equal marriage’ in the drafting of Cuba’s new constitution in 2019”
“From this view, it is taught that a human being, even from their earliest age, could choose their sexual identity, regardless of the biological sex with which they were born,” they said, and called for “a broad and participatory debate” of the resolution, “where everyone had the opportunity to be adequately informed and express their views on the matter”.
The bishops’ resistance to the resolution comes after their public opposition to “equal marriage” in the drafting of Cuba’s new constitution in 2019. This reference was eventually removed by Cuban parliament.
A national Family Code
However, the issue is being taken up again in a new national Family Code, which is being drafted by a special commission and is expected to be presented to Cuba’s national legislature, the National Assembly of People’s Power, in July. It will then be submitted to parliament and a referendum held.
A large portion of the Cuban LGBT community is opposed to the new code, arguing that the issue of “equal marriage” should not be put to a vote, but must be guaranteed.
In their message on Resolution 16/2021, the bishops said incorporating ideological teachings on gender into school curricula would “distance us from our history and cultural tradition”.
Quoting Pope Francis’s 2016 exhortation on the family Amoris Laetitia, the bishops said gender ideology “denies the difference and reciprocity in nature of a man and a woman and envisages a society without sexual differences, thereby eliminating the anthropological basis of the family”.
“This ideology leads to educational programs and legislative enactments that promote a personal identity and emotional intimacy radically separated from the biological difference between male and female,” the text says, adding, “It is a source of concern that some ideologies of this sort, which seek to respond to what are at times understandable aspirations, manage to assert themselves as absolute and unquestionable, even dictating how children should be raised”.
In the text, Pope Francis stresses the need to distinguish between biological sex and cultural gender roles without completely separating the two, saying, “Let us not fall into the sin of trying to replace the Creator. We are creatures, and not omnipotent…At the same time, we are called to protect our humanity, and this means, in the first place, accepting it and respecting it as it was created”.
In this perspective, the Cuban bishops said it was both “necessary and indispensable” that parents maintain the right to educate their own children, and that their input is considered in all forms of collaboration with teachers, school authorities, and drafting educational policy.
They also insisted that sex education ought to be done with the guidance of parents, “as it is their responsibility”, and they asked parents to “fulfil their duty, without waiting for others to replace them in what is their obligation”.
The bishops asked that the resolution “be reconsidered”, on grounds that it does not sufficiently recognise the right of parents in sexual education, and also “for the serious consequences in the formation of children, adolescents, and young people, by making official the advance of ‘gender ideology,’ so sensitive in the formation of personality”.
“We believe that new generations should not be exposed to a conception of sexuality not validated by science”, they said, noting that under the new resolution, many people involved in the educational process, including parents and teachers, would be subjected to ideologies “that contradict their deepest convictions”.
Respect, mutual listening, and social friendship will always prevail over all forms of intolerance and violence”
“It is up to all of us, but above all you parents, to promote and bear witness to the beauty and joy of marriage created and loved by God”, they said, and urged Catholics not to be discouraged when “at times, everything around us seems to go against the family institution”.
“Let’s not lose our strength when we have to swim against the current. Let us teach young married couples to work together and take care of their families,” they said, asking that in Cuba, “respect, mutual listening, and social friendship will always prevail over all forms of intolerance and violence”.