A Northern Ireland quango has criticised schools for advocating ‘no sex before marriage’ as a positive lifestyle choice.
The taxpayer-funded Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC) said the majority of schools in the Province were ‘guilty’ of idealising the benefits of “abstinence, marriage, and monogamy”.
It is now calling for a “comprehensive” and “pluralistic” reform of Relationship and Sexuality Education (RSE) in secondary schools.
Information gathered by the NIHRC on RSE policies from over 140 schools was analysed by a group of Commission appointees.
Based on the data, they claimed the majority of secondary schools were failing to affirm “sexual rights and diverse forms of sexual expression”.
Instead, the group noted, “the only positive and affirmative messages surrounding sexual practices involved discussions of the ‘positive benefits’ of commitment, monogamy, and marriage”.
The panel findings said some schools “specifically promoted abstinence”, and in one instance presented “sexual abstinence before marriage and fidelity within it” as “the positive and desirable option and an achievable reality”.
According to the NIHRC-endorsed report: “The experts assessed that the majority of schools in NI are not providing age-appropriate, comprehensive and scientifically accurate education on access to abortion services.”
They found, it said, that only 1 in 4 schools “included ‘abortion’ in their curriculum content in an objective or value-free context”.
“Aside from these schools who included some degree of unbiased information on abortion in their policies and curriculum content, the majority of schools that mentioned ‘abortion’ did so within a context of their schools’ ethos and moral frameworks.”
Almost two thirds of schools, the NIHRC reported, “referenced various pro-life values, such as ‘right to life’”, with pupils in several schools “taught according to the ‘biblical principles of the sanctity of life’ and ‘the Christian ethos’ in regard to abortion”.
UN sex ed agenda
Last week, the Westminster Government announced that compulsory RSE classes are to be introduced across Northern Ireland.
Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris MP said he had a statutory duty to implement RSE recommendations contained in a report by the UN’s Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).
Citing CEDAW’s report recommendation, Mr Heaton-Harris said that post-primary school children must “have access to age-appropriate, comprehensive and scientifically accurate education on sexual and reproductive health and rights”.
Following its investigation, which preceded the Secretary of State’s announcement, the NIHRC called for the same CEDAW recommendation to be made a compulsory component in the RSE curriculum for all secondary schools.