By Monika Janas
A couple of teenagers of the opposite sex had their wrists taped together with sticky tape. The sticky tape was then ripped away and the same piece of tape was used to connect the boy with another girl. It was then ripped away again. This is a technique used by a Catholic youth group, Pure Heart Ireland, to “show” what happens if a person has more than one sexual partner. This scare tactic should have place in the 21st century, yet it is appearing in Catholic schools throughout the state.
Abstinence talks like the one described above, close off the discussion on consent which is crucial to healthy sexual relationships and the ending of rape culture and victim blaming. Young people are being emotionally manipulated into hating their bodies whilst not gaining any knowledge about them, not to mention the utter exclusion of and discrimination against LGBTQ young people with such conservative and backward ‘sex education’.
A 2012 survey showed that 55 per cent of Irish 18-year-olds will leave secondary school without any formal sexual health education, while another 15 per cent cannot remember receiving theirs. Sex education in a secular, progressive public school system is a human right that our young people are denied. The plight of both LGBTQ students and teachers within a predominantly Catholic school system is also a huge issue. The unwillingness of any section of the political establishment to make the necessary wholesale change illustrates the need for a movement to build for a genuine left government that will finally separate church and state in this country – getting religious influence out of schools, hospitals and laws.