Opinion: ‘Comprehensive’ sex ed bill robs sex of its sacredness

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When I was speaking full-time to teenagers, I used to have a transition in my talk. I would talk about love, and then about marriage. And then I’d get to the part where we would discuss sex — not how it works, but just why God created it and in what context he intended it for. The kids could see it coming. So, over time, I developed this little transition where I would say, “I know what you’re thinking. ‘Oh no, she’s going to talk about sex. PLEASE don’t let her talk about the details, because I get really embarrassed when people talk about that in public.’ And then you’re thinking ‘I wonder why I get so embarrassed, when sex is supposed to be the greatest thing in the world. Clearly something is wrong with me, and I’m going to grow up to be some kind of weird, sexually-hung-up adult.’ And then you’re thinking ‘How does this lady know I’m thinking all of this?’” And then I would tell them we were not going to discuss the details, and I would without fail hear a collective sigh of relief.

One mother told me that, after the talk, her middle school son ran out the car and said “Mom, it was amazing!! She knew what we were THINKING!!!”

In that talk, I would go on to tell them that I knew because all of this is normal. I told them that God created them to be uncomfortable discussing the details of sexual activity. He did that not because it is somehow dirty or bad, but exactly the opposite — because it is holy, sacred. Because it is so good and so important that he wants it set aside in a special place in our lives, and he doesn’t want us to be comfortable discussing the details the same way we’d discuss lunch or football. I told them that they want to protect that instinct, because it protects them and protects the sacredness of their bodies and of sex.

And this, my friends, is why I oppose so-called Comprehensive Sex Education, like the bill that, as I write today, is being aggressively imposed on Coloradoans.

Sex is not an academic subject like math or social studies. It is deeply personal.  Kids, especially, go through developmental stages where explicit sexual information — especially when presented in a public, mixed-gender forum — is deeply disturbing to them. I remember it myself, and I’ve seen it in the children I’ve known who have been exposed to information before they were ready for it.

The sponsors of the Colorado bill keep insisting that the information presented will be “age appropriate.” My problem with that is simple: Who decides what is “age appropriate” in such a sensitive area? Kids develop and mature at vastly different rates. Different kids are ready for different information at different times. One teacher couldn’t possibly even manage to get it right in a single classroom, much less a government dictating guidelines to an entire state.

The sponsors also keep insisting that their guidelines are just ensuring “fact-based” sex education. Here is my biggest problem with this and other “comprehensive” sex education programs. Education about sex itself is simple — much simpler than the Sex Education Establishment would have you believe. The plumbing talk — the actual “facts” — takes maybe 15 minutes. The rest is absolutely saturated in values. When should you be doing it? With whom? How is the possibility of pregnancy handled? How are the consequences of pregnancy handled?

The way those questions are answered will go a long way in determining what the rest of your child’s life looks like.

I know the advocates say that parents can still have those discussions at home. But there are two problems with that. One is that these very guidelines ensure that those discussions are also happening — extensively — in the classroom. And I can pretty much guarantee that, as a Catholic, the values being presented are going to be contrary to the values you are trying to impart to your children.  The Colorado guidelines dictate the direction of many essentially values-based topics. They insist that, in discussion of pregnancy outcomes, abortion must be presented along with adoption and parenthood, and that one cannot be favored over another. They also ban the use of “gender norms” and, in a truly vague regulation, the use of “shame, stigma or fear.” And they dictate that any curriculum has to include the study of “healthy relationships,” mandating the inclusion of gay and lesbian relationships in that discussion.

My second problem is that studies consistently show that when a child receives information from a particular source, he or she will return to that source when they have questions or problems. Which means — you guessed it — when your kid has a sexual problem, he or she is going to be more likely to go to the sex ed instructor than to you for help and guidance.

In my talk transition above, I would tell them that, if they had questions about the details of sex, they should ask their parents. I really believe, as does the Church, that the family is a private, sacred space, and the ideal context for children to learn about private, sacred matters. The Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education, in their excellent 1983 document Educational Guidance in Human Love, says that “The family has an affective dignity which is suited to making acceptable without trauma the most delicate realities and to integrating them harmoniously, in a balanced and rich personality.”

The document also goes on to say “. . . if parents do not feel able to perform this duty, they may have recourse to others who enjoy their confidence.” The Church on the local level has sponsored many such initiatives in the past years. Among my favorites have been the Mother/Daughter and Father/Son programs, where parents decide when their kids are ready to participate, and accompany them so that the information is given to both at the same time, giving a springboard for later communication.

I could go on and on. Perhaps I will, and this will become a multi-part column. But for now, my point is simple: There are many, many ways to impart sensitive information about human sexuality to impressionable children. Individual families and school districts must be left to make these decisions for themselves, without being burdened by overbearing, biased, Draconian state regulations.

To contact your state senator and ask them to oppose House Bill 1032, click here.

COMING UP: The dangers of the proposed sexuality education bill for Colorado schools

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The dangers of the proposed sexuality education bill for Colorado schools

Faithful are encouraged to testify against HB 19-1032 Feb. 28

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A controversial sexuality education bill was approved by the House of Representatives in February and now seeks approval of the State Senate, starting with a hearing on Thursday, Feb. 28.

House Bill 19-1032 would require public and charter schools in Colorado that choose to teach a sexual education curriculum to follow certain “comprehensive sex-ed” regulations which opponents of the bill argue undermine the rights of parents to educate their children on issues of sexual morality.

All are encouraged to attend the hearing at the State Capitol and express their concern against HB 19-1032. The committee hearing is scheduled for 1:30 pm in SCR 357.

The Denver Catholic spoke to three experts to explore some of the dangers of this bill: Father Luis Granados, DCJM, doctor in moral theology; Dr. Elizabeth Walker, clinical psychologist; and Dr. Francisco La Rosa, associate professor at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.

Does it fill a need?

According to Dr. La Rosa, allowing the government to introduce sexual education during the years of brain development “is to introduce confusion and self-doubt which can lead to serious problems of anxiety, depression and suicide.”

The content of the curriculum is undefined, and the bill is vague on how schools will determine what is “age appropriate.”

“[This bill is] bad news for children and parents because children will come home with many questions, very confused and disoriented, and the teachers who do not agree with this teaching and object to it will eventually be fired for refusing to teach something that harms children,” Father Granados added.

Religion: an ideology?

One of the statements of the house bill affirms that sexual education must exclude all forms of “religious ideology.” In this respect, Father Granados clarified: “The Catholic teaching on sexuality is not an ideology, [rather] it helps us understand the truth of our being and of natural law… [Ironically], this law introduces its own ideology that is harmful, [making affirmations such as], ‘a boy can be a girl in a boy’s body.’”

Furthermore, Dr. Walker highlighted that the Catholic teaching on the orientation of the human person “is rooted in natural law.” This natural law says that “we are created male or female” and that contraception and abortion “are contrary to [it].”

Abortion

If the topic of an undesired pregnancy were to be discussed in class, this bill would make it mandatory for teachers to present abortion and life as equal options. Father Granados warned that even though the bill claims to be neutral in this matter, “what it’s actually doing is promoting the culture of death because, evidently, if the three options are presented as equal, the girl will most likely choose abortion.”

Dr. Walker also pointed out the reality of the Post Abortion Stress Syndrome, “a sort of spiritual and emotional death. At some point, post-abortive women – and others who facilitate abortions – suffer from profound grief, regret, guilt and depressive and post-traumatic stress disorders.” It’s a trauma that can lead a woman to have suicidal or self-destructive behaviors.

Moreover, Dr. La Rosa assures that the best way to reduce abortions “is by educating children to respect life from the moment of conception until natural death, and to practice chastity… until the time of marriage.”

A true education

Nonetheless, one question remains: How can we fill the void of sexual education that so many children and teens lack?

Father Granados proposes that “parents talk to their children about sexuality properly,” calling to mind that there are many programs available, such as the Theology of the Body and Teen Star, that help children and adolescents know their body and guide parents in talking to their children about this subject.

“Sexuality is good,” Father Granados said. “It has been created by God, and as parents we have that responsibility of saying that God has created us male or female. We must thank God, who gives sense to our sexuality.”

But, can promoting abstinence be attractive to a young man or woman in the 21st century? “In my experience, when young people are presented with the truth of God’s plan for sexuality and marriage, their eyes light up and something clicks in their mind,” Dr. Walker said. “We are wired for the truth. The natural law is written on every human heart. These fundamental truths, when presented with compassion and love, can lead to dramatic conversions. I have seen young people repent and choose a new way of living; there is much peace in living a virtuous, pure life.”

Dr. La Rosa added that Popes Pius XI and XII “have instructed us very clearly that the tradition teaching about sex education should not be primarily a matter of discussing explicit sexual issues, but rather, it should be a matter if inculcating modesty, purity, chastity and morality.”

The State takes control

According to Dr. Walker, taking control of the sexual education of children the way this bill does, “would violate the religious freedom of parents, educators and children themselves.”

Fr. Granados added that “it would be very naïve to think that Catholic schools and homeschoolers will not be targeted in the near future. We must fight to protect all children in the State of Colorado from this aggressive teaching of gender ideology.”

Thus, instead of imposing an education that can generate confusion among children and adolescents, Father Granados recommends that children be taught to “dress with dignity.” And encourages parents to dialogue and ask their children when they return from school: “What have you learned today? What did they teach you?”

Similarly, Dr. Walker said, “I would also encourage parents to discuss chastity and purity and modesty with their children at a very early age.”

HB 19 1032 IS SCHEDULED TO BE HEARD ON THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 28 IN THE SENATE HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES COMMITTEE ROOM 357.  THE COMMITTEE STARTS AT 1:30 P.M. 

ANYONE IS WELCOME TO COME TO THE CAPITAL TO LISTEN AND OR  TESTIFY ON HB 19 1032.

To contact your state representative and ask them to oppose House Bill 1032, click here.