The Government has been accused of delaying updates to sex education in Irish schools.
Speaking ahead of Dublin Pride, Fianna Fáil’s spokesman on education Thomas Byrne told The Independent: “It’s deeply disappointing this long-awaited review is once again delayed.
“This weekend we celebrated Pride. It’s a particularly timely reminder of the need to educate on LGBTQ+ rights.
“Work is needed to address shortfalls in areas around consent, access to education for LGBTQ+ young people and the overall quality and suitability of current Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) and Social Personal and Health Education Curriculum (SPHE).”
A spokesperson for the Department of Education called the comments “baseless criticism” at a time when “extensive consultation” was taking place.
“The review has not been delayed,” added the spokesperson.
When Mr Byrne asked about progress on this last week, Mr McHugh responded that the “NCCA council is due to consider a draft of the report”.
The department spokesman added: “It’s very appropriate time is being taken to carry out a major review of how we educate our young people about relationships and sexuality.”
Past reports have said that the current sex education curriculum, which was introduced in 1999, is outdated, setting heterosexual relationships as the main focus, and queer relationships and different gender identities are rarely if ever, touched upon. Any new curriculum should include sex education geared towards those with intellectual disabilities, and deal with issues such as contraception, LGBT+ identities, sexually transmitted infections, information around abortion, pornography, consent, psycho-sexual issues and gender equality.
In April 2018, the Objective Sex Education Bill passed the Dáil but little progress has been made since.
Currently, most children in Ireland get a catholic sex ed, as the church controls the vast majority of schools and integrate their ethos into subjects under their curriculum, for example, many RSE and SPHE curriculums are devised with catholic values in mind. This is also true for Education Training Board schools and colleges.
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