Out-dated religious lessons are being targeted by a parent lobby group who say they are ‘damaging’.
A parent group is warning that some books used by scripture teachers in public schools are sending dangerous messages to students. They have demanded that certain books be removed from the program immediately and have called for a parliamentary inquiry into how such texts were approved in the first place.
Parent-run lobby group Fairness in Religions in Schools (FIRIS) says texts being used in NSW public schools by Anglican teachers are sending worrying messages about homosexuality, sex and male dominance. FIRIS commissioned a study into Teen Sex By the Book and additional publications provided by Australia’s largest evangelical Christian school curriculum publisher, Christian Education Publications, and concluded that they ‘failed to meet industry standards’.
A parliamentary inquiry might seem like a stretch, that is until you hear exactly what these books are teaching NSW public school students during scripture classes.
Teen sex leads to drug addiction and alcoholism.
Divorce is a result of ‘human sinfulness and ignorance’.
Sex should not occur outside of long-term relationships.
Girls who wear short skirts and low cut tops are “tempting their Christian brothers to lust”.
Homosexuality is a result of “misplaced sexual desire”.
This isn’t the first time a parent group has raised concerns about anti-homosexuality messages in schools. (Post continues after video.)
Parents who send their children to public schools are given the option of nominating which religious education program they would like their kids to participate in. Commonly, scripture teachers are provided by local churches who run the lessons once a week. Parents are given the option of opting out of religious education and instead participating in an ethics lesson instead.
Greens education spokesperson John Kaye told Fairfax that such messages are potentially damaging to students. “This is dangerous stuff. Abstinence messaging and homophobia have real consequences for vulnerable young people,” he stated.
Sex educator Deanne Carson analysed the texts and said the way divorce and homosexuality are discussed in these books actually contravenes Department of Education and Communities guidelines. She says the messages they are spreading undermine good work being done in schools about same-sex relationships.
“The book’s messaging on sexuality and gender diversity is hugely concerning,” she told Fairfax. “It really undermines the work being done in schools and communities to support same-sex attracted young people.” Her report has been sent to Education Minister Adrian Piccoli and schools have been advised not to use the books and manuals.
Teen Sex by the Book author Patricia Weerakoon has spoken out in defense of her book, saying it was only every intended to be used by Christian parents and their teenagers. “It does not in any way portray same-sex attraction as a sin,” she said. “It does not portray pre-marital sex or divorce as sins.”
Still, the out-dated nature of the lessons is alarming, particularly in this day and age where the focus has shifted to those of safe sex, equality of the sexes and acceptance of all lifestyle choices.
The Department of Education has announced a scripture and ethics implementation review.
Do you think different religions have a right to teach traditional beliefs in NSW public schools?
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