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New RSE Programme for Schools Causing Waves


Posted by Schooldays Newshound, on 27/04/2021. New RSE Programme for Schools Causing WavesTags: Parenting Education And Politics


A new Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) programme called Flourish released by the Department of Education is hitting headlines over the last few days. Flourish is a programme set out to be used in all Catholic Primary schools in Ireland, which accounts for approximately 90% of schools. While opting out of Religion classes is an option that is taken by some, the question heavily debated is, should religion be featuring so heavily in children's Relationship and Sexuality Education?

In the introductory booklet to the programme, Pope Francis is quoted as acknowledging '‘it's not easy to approach the issue of sex education in an age when sexuality tends to be trivialised and impoverished."

A further paragraph explains Teachers must be cognisant and sensitive to children's individual circumstances stating; 'Children do not choose their circumstances and should not be made to feel any form of ‘otherness’ by what is taught in class'.

Further, in the introductory booklet, LGBTQI students are referred to with a statement asking that this be respected and self-love be the most important teaching, finishing with 'However, the Church’s teaching in relation to marriage between a man and a woman cannot be omitted'.

What is Flourish?

Flourish is a programme that features within each year of primary school, it covers topics like loving your body and yourself, minding your feelings and treating others respectfully, challenges with using the internet and ensuring the children know how to conduct themselves, changes that happen with puberty and finally sex and relationships. Each step of the programme includes a reflection to thank God for each part.

Many quotes throughout the programme lead to questions of whether it is an inclusive programme with sentences like; 'My gender is part of who I am. God loves me as I am.' and 'Sex is a precious gift from God. It belongs in a committed relationship' and perhaps the most controversial 'puberty is a gift from God. We are perfectly designed by God to procreate with him'.

There is one reference in Fifth Class to same-sex relationships with the following passage;

'Is romantic love always between a man and a woman? Explain to the children that when a person is attracted to someone of the same sex as them in a romantic way they are said to be homosexual or gay. Female homosexuals are known as lesbians'.

Staying true to the introductory booklet, different types of families are briefly mentioned in the eight-year programme such as this paragraph in Sixth Class;

'Be mindful that children may bring up that babies can come into families by adoption, surrogacy, fostering and to same-sex couples. Emphasise that babies are a gift from God in all circumstances and that God is at the centre of love in all families.'

The Department of Education state all schools are required to have a relationships and sexuality education policy that considers the ethos and is developed with the school community, parents and students. It says the Catholic school must consider these topics within “a moral framework that reflects the teachings of the Church”.

Read the full Flourish programme here.

Written by Ciara Morgan


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