Columnist: ‘Teachers should stick to biology not ideology in sex ed’

Parents not teachers should be giving guidance on sex and relationships, a Republic of Ireland columnist has said.

Writing in the Irish Independent, Lorraine Courtney urged concerned individuals to respond to the Irish Government backed Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) curriculum proposals, which tackle controversial issues such as ‘gender identity’ and ‘sexual orientation’.

The consultation phase for the draft SPHE curriculum for 12 to 16-year-olds, which includes Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE), is open to submissions until mid-October.


The document states that students should be able to “appreciate that sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression are core parts of human identity and that each is experienced along a spectrum”.

According to the glossary of terms for SPHE, ‘gender identity’ is defined as “a person’s felt internal and individual experience of gender, for example, cisgender, transgender, non-binary, which may or may not correspond with the sex assigned to them at birth”.

A key focus of the RSE component will be to prepare young people for “romantic/intimate and potential sexual relationships in the future”.

The law in the Republic of Ireland says that a person must be 17 years of age to be able to consent to engaging in a sexual act.


Courtney questioned the appropriateness of the recommendations, countering: “Any attempt at teaching more than the biology of sex necessarily involves teaching values and moral judgments.

“This is what worries me and why I don’t think sex education should be a school subject anymore.”

She asked: “is it really the place of teachers to be so involved in the emerging sexuality and sex lives of children? Is this progress?”

The journalist added: “It might be an idea to let the teachers concentrate on teaching reading, writing and maths before they turn their hand to the murky depths of human sexuality and expression.”


She continued: “I also think that there is something quite wrong in the way parents’ values are being demeaned and dismissed when it comes to sex education.

“Increasingly it seems like we’re trying to deny and circumvent the huge role our families and communities play in forming and shaping our attitudes to sex and relationships. This just isn’t right and is potentially very damaging to children.”

Referring to the consultation, Courtney concluded: “I’d urge everyone to take a look. It’s time we all learned about what our children are taught.”

Also see:

Boy sitting

MP: ‘Kids exposed to deeply inappropriate and explicit sex ed materials’

Scot Govt resources accused of normalising underage sexual activity

Welsh Govt airbrushes ‘male’ and ‘female’ out of new sex ed curriculum

Westminster threatens to impose compulsory sex-ed in NI schools

Related Resources