Education Minister says faith ethos can’t hinder sex ed classes

Education Minister says faith ethos can’t hinder sex ed classes Education Minister Joe McHugh Photo: Victor Besa / The National

Ethos cannot be allowed to interfere with the teaching of Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) in schools, Education Minister Joe McHugh has said.

Speaking during a debate about a report on RSE published by the Oireachtas Education Committee, he said even now, “schools are obliged to teach all elements of the [RSE] curriculum”.

Minister McHugh told TDs “No element [of RSE] can be omitted on the grounds of school ethos or characteristic spirit”. He accepted that RSE has to be “age-appropriate” and involve discussions with parents about its content.

RSE was first introduced to schools 20 years ago and is currently being reviewed by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA). There have been calls to introduce far more content about gay and transsexual issues, and about consent, as well as pornography following the rise of the internet and smartphones in the last two decades.

Socialist TD Ruth Coppinger and Fianna Fáil’s Fiona O’Loughlin are among those who have argued that the ethos of Catholic and other faith schools might ‘interfere’ with the teaching of the full RSE curriculum.

Ruth Coppinger has told the Dáil that students should no longer be taught that there are only two ‘genders’, male and female. Transgender ideology says there are many different genders.

The NCCA has invited all interested parties including parents to take part in the review. They can do so via the NCCA website under ‘consultations’ up to October 25.