Statement from Let Kids Be Kids with regard to Public Comments by the Minister for Education

“The ethos will be protected.”

We welcome Minister Joe McHugh’s public comments yesterday, 11 December 2019, that ethos in schools “will be protected”. [i] [ii] [iii]

Protection of ethos in all schools has been a core tenet of our campaign. We are resolutely of the belief that all schools (whether secular or denominational) should have the right to uphold their own core values without any fear of interference from the State.  

In light of Minister McHugh’s confirmation that the Department of Education is “very anxious[iv] to ensure that the ethos of the school is central to any curriculum, we now call upon the Joint Oireachtas Committee for Education and Skills to immediately withdraw their recommendation that the Education Act 1998 be amended to remove ethos as a “barrier”, particularly given the urgency the Committee placed upon this ill-advised recommendation by calling for legislative change by the end of 2019 “at the latest”.[v]

“Dangerous scaremongering”

We note Minister McHugh’s comments with regard to “dangerous scaremongering[vi] and we utterly reject any suggestion that Let Kids Be Kids has been engaged in any such activities. The facts remain as follows:

  • The Research Paper[vii] commissioned by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) refers to the World Health Organisation (WHO) document, “Standards for Sexuality Education in Europe”, as “international best practice”.
  • The Draft Report[viii] on the Review of Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) issued by the NCCA in July 2019 contains the suggestion that any new Sex Education curriculum “should meet best international standards as set down by the WHO in its Standards for Sexuality Education in Europe”.
  • The final Report[ix] on the Review of RSE issued yesterday by the NCCA now states that our new Sex Education curriculum should be informed by “international best practice”. All references to the WHO document have been removed. No information on what constitutes “international best practice” is given.

The WHO document[x] referred to above is the very document which contains the wholly inappropriate guidance on information to be given to 0-4 year olds, which has been widely and rightly condemned.

Any document containing such wholly inappropriate guidance should not play any part in the development of our new Sex Education curriculum. Following our efforts to raise awareness about the inappropriateness of this WHO document, we welcome its omission from the final NCCA Report, however, it is now entirely unclear what documents or standards are now considered by the NCCA to be “international best practice”.

We call on the Minister, the Department of Education and Skills and the NCCA to immediately and unequivocally confirm that the wholly inappropriate WHO document, “Standards for Sexuality Education in Europe”, will not form any part of our curriculum development process.

Following the deletion of any references to the WHO document, we further call for immediate clarification on the documents and standards which constitute “international best practice” per the NCCA Report on the Review of RSE published yesterday. These documents and standards will inform our new curriculum and in the interests of transparency should be fully disclosed without delay.

Let Kids Be Kids – the campaign continues

We believe that dismissing parental concern as “scaremongering” is inappropriate and wrong. Let Kids be Kids has not and will not engage in any such activity. Such baseless accusations serve no purpose other than to attempt to silence debate at a time when debate and public discourse should be welcomed and encouraged.  We will continue to contribute positively to this discussion, as well as publicising any and all future opportunities for consultation.

We look forward to a wide-ranging, inclusive and transparent consultation involving all stakeholders during the development of any new RSE curriculum, with the NCCA and the Department of Education and Skills acting as partners, not masters, in the process.

Let Kids Be Kids

www.letkidsbekids.ie

12 December 2019

ENDS



[i] https://www.rte.ie/news/2019/1211/1098517-sex-education/

[ii] https://www.thejournal.ie/sex-education-joe-mchugh-4928600-Dec2019/

[iii] https://www.breakingnews.ie/ireland/minister-lashes-out-at-fake-news-suggestion-that-four-year-olds-to-be-taught-about-masturbation-969848.html

[iv] https://www.irishexaminer.com/breakingnews/ireland/catholic-schools-allowed-to-opt-out-of-revised-sex-education-curriculum-which-conflict-with-ethos-969848.html

[v] https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/committee/dail/32/joint_committee_on_education_and_skills/reports/2019/2019-01-29_report-on-relationships-and-sexuality-education_en.pdf

[vi] https://www.thejournal.ie/sex-education-joe-mchugh-4928600-Dec2019/

[vii] https://www.ncca.ie/en/resources/relationships-and-sexuality-education-rse-in-primary-and-post-primary-irish-schools-a-research-paper

[viii] https://www.ncca.ie/media/4004/draft-report-on-the-review-of-rse.pdf

[ix] https://www.ncca.ie/en/resources/report-on-the-review-of-relationships-and-sexuality-education-in-primary-and-post-primary-schools

[x] https://letkidsbekids.ie/2019/11/30/extracts-from-the-who-document-standards-for-sexuality-education-in-europe/

Extracts from the WHO Document – Standards for Sexuality Education in Europe

Children aged 0-4 years (i.e. babies, infants and young children in montessori/playschool) should be given information about “early childhood masturbation”. We believe that this advice from the WHO is absolutely abhorrent. Children under 4 years old should be playing with building blocks and play dough, not learning about masturbation.

Children aged 9-12 years should be given information about their “first sexual experience” as well as “masturbation” and “orgasm”. Children of this age should be enabled to “make a conscious decision to have sexual experiences or not”. Again, we believe that this is entirely inappropriate information to be imparted to young children in Primary School classrooms.

Source:

https://www.bzga-whocc.de/en/publications/standards-in-sexuality-education/

https://www.bzga-whocc.de/fileadmin/user_upload/WHO_BZgA_Standards_English.pdf

Statement with Regard to Personal Attacks on Councillor Pamela Kearns

We utterly condemn the personal attacks made on Councillor Pamela Kearns both at the Public Meeting on Tuesday 26 November and subsequently on Social Media. The plan to make significant changes to our Sex Education curriculum is an emotive topic, but that is no excuse for verbally abusing those with whom we may disagree. Councillor Kearns has clarified on social media that the point she was intending to make was that babies “explore their bodies”.

We believe that the vast majority of people in this country want what is best for children. The question of exactly what that is in relation to Sex Education is a divisive one, and resolution and compromise will not be possible unless people can speak freely without fear of being condemned or vilified.

Public discourse on this issue is badly needed and will not be encouraged by the personal abuse received by those who speak freely. Attempts to silence or intimidate anyone expressing their view on this topic are reprehensible and should be roundly condemned by all parties.

Let Kids Be Kids

www.letkidsbekids.ie