Sex education begins at home, say bishops

SEX EDUCATION should take place at home rather than at school, according to Portuguese bishops.

In the pamphlet “Note on Sex Education”, published recently by the Conferência Episcopal Portuguese (CEP), the Portuguese Episcopal Conference, the bishops set out their views in no uncertain terms stating: “In the field of sexuality, as in other areas, it is most fitting for parents to decide the basic educative lines that are most desirable for their children, according to their values, beliefs and cultural framework.”

According to the document, the school should only have a “subsidiary” role. While the bishops accept that the school can play an important complementary role in co-operation with the family, they are firm that parents not only have the right, but also the positive “duty” to educate their children in matters sexual.

The document continues: “The exercise of this right/duty comes before the intervention of other institutions outside the family, namely the school,” and states further, “this responsibility is inalienable and not transferable and evolves over the entire life of the child from birth to adulthood.”

The bishops go on to be severely critical of the already controversial school manuals and particularly of the education circular “Sex Education in the School Environment: Orientation Lines”, which they describe as “colliding with sensibility and convictions”. They warn that, “sex education cannot consist of merely bodily and reproductive mechanisms”, an approach which, in the opinion of the CEP, reduces sexuality to the physical dimension with emphasis on “prevention against sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies”. According to the bishops, this view “corrupts” sexuality and leads to an “absence of ethical criteria and the acceptance as normal of multiple manifestations of sexuality, from masturbation to homosexuality, and corporal relations being without a spiritual dimension since love and commitment are absent”.