Tuesday, November 2, 2010

UN World Youth Conference: The battle for the minds and hearts of youth

At the UN World Youth Conference that was held in Leon, Mexico, in August last, the Holy See expressed its concern that the final document of the conference, the Guanajuato Declaration, did not reflect the true position of marriage and the family. The Holy See, during its interventions at the conference, emphasised the necessary role of parents in the lives of their children, particularly in the area of education in sexuality, and pointed out that ‘the word “parents” does not appear once in an outcome document devoted to youth, which means that the vital role parents must play in fulfilling their responsibilities for them has not been recognized.’ Further, the Holy See expressed concern that
‘the reference to “comprehensive education on human sexuality” stands alone without reference to parents’ “prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children”, including religious, moral and spiritual dimensions of authentic human love, and related matters concerning the nature of sexuality, marriage and the family.’
The Holy See also stated that, in the context of the term
‘sexual and reproductive health’ used in the document, it ‘does not consider abortion or access to abortion as a dimension of this concept, nor contraception or the use of condoms as an acceptable family planning measure.'
Referring to the term ‘family … in its plurality of forms’, used in the document, the Holy See set out its recognition of ‘one family form’ – only –
‘based on marriage, the equal partnership between one man and one woman, that is, husband and wife, and the duty of the state to strengthen the family.’
This is the point at which I would like to refer to the booklet Tried but Untested – the aims and outcomes of sex education in schools that I mentioned in this blog recently.
The booklet was published by the Family Education Trust (Milton Keynes, England) in 1995, and it is an invaluable reference source in relation to the question of ‘sex education’ in schools. Contributors include Valerie Riches (‘Sex Education and Social Engineering’); Paul Atkin (‘Local Authority Sex Education Policies’); Robert Whelan (‘Teaching Sex in Schools: Does it Work?’), and others. Even though it was written fifteen years ago, an Appendix entitled ‘Local Action for Parents’ is still very relevant to the problems that today’s parents face with regard to ‘sex education’ in schools. In introducing her contribution to the booklet, Valerie Riches says:
‘Most people would agree that children need to be told properly about human sexuality, rather than being left to find out about it for themselves. Many parents will take comfort from the fact that schools now provide sex education, perhaps believing that they are thus being supported in their parental duty to bring their children to a sensitive understanding of one of the most important aspects of human life.
‘However, my own family’s experience, as well as research that I have done, suggest that sinister motives underlie the sex education movement, and that the content of a lot of sex education is actually hostile to the family values which many parents still support.’
Nothing much has changed! If you don’t already have a copy of Tried but Untested do try to acquire a copy of it. It can happen that the relevance of something written many years ago is brought home to us only much later.