The Oireachtas Education Committee is to call for changes in the way sex education is taught in both primary and secondary schools in Ireland, including the introduction of more education on LGBT+ relationships.
The report states that external providers of sex education, such as Catholic groups, should be regulated by the HSE and the Department of Education to ensure that students are given “consistency and accuracy of information.”
The report also calls for “fully inclusive” sex education that includes information about homosexual and transgender relationships.
Suggesting the removal of religion from sex education, the report says that teaching on the topic should be “effective, objective, and factual.”
It also points out that the current sex education curriculum, which was introduced in 1999, is outdated and should be updated within at least a year to “give consideration to the significant welcome changes that have taken place in Ireland.”
The current curriculum sets heterosexual relationships as the main focus, and queer relationships and different gender identities are rarely if ever, touched upon.
The Committee has also recommended that the new curriculum should include sex education geared towards those with intellectual disabilities, dealing with issues such as contraception.
Last year, RTÉ reported that many State schools had paid out more than €10ooo to bring in Catholic organisations to provide sex ed to students.
The committee suggests that schools with a Catholic ethos should not be allowed to use that as a barrier to providing proper and fully inclusive sex ed to students.
The committee was advised by groups such as the Rape Crisis Centre, teacher trade unions, school managers and youth organisations.
The committee heard that the new curriculum is needed so that it can “reflect international best practice, particularly in terms of contraceptive use, sexually transmitted infections, information around abortion, sexual orientation, gender identity, pornography, consent, psycho-sexual issues and gender equality.”
An earlier draft of the report published last year stated that “Consideration should be given to the inclusion within curriculums of LGBTQ+ specific sexual health issues and the presentation of LGBT relationships without distinction as to their heterosexual counterparts.”
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