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CEO sounds alarm on push to tie funding to sex classes

Sydney's Catholic Education Office has said that Federal Government funding to schools should not be contingent on schools proving they have comprehensive sex education programs.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Liberal backbencher Mal Washer said yesterday that better sex education is the most effective way of reducing the abortion rate. He later suggested that the implementation of a thorough sex education program should be added to the Government's list of demands schools must meet before they receive a slice of its four-year $31.3 billion funding pie.

When asked what implications that might hold for the country's 1700 Catholic schools, Dr Washer said yesterday any decision should be made irrespective of cultural and religious allegiances.

The Sydney Catholic Education Office responded by calling Dr Washer's comments "totally inappropriate".

"Teaching about human sexuality is very much tied up with faith and our belief systems," the archdiocese's director of religious education and curriculum, Seamus O'Grady, said. "Such teaching needs to be informed by the traditions of the Gospel and the Catholic Church."

Mr O'Grady said Catholic schools in NSW abide by the Board of Studies' sex education syllabus as part of the personal development, health and physical education (PDHPE) curriculum. Catholic schools use additional material to ensure students learn about sexuality in the context of the church's teachings.

Prime Minister John Howard, and Education Minister Brendan Nelson, backed Dr Washer's comments, but said the views of parents and religious sensitivities should also be taken into account.

Push to tie funding to sex classes under fire (Sydney Morning Herald 10/2/05)

Dr Mal Washer MP
Catholic Education Office, Sydney
New Vatican document vindicates concerns about classroom sex education (AD2000 March 1996)
Michelle Faye Kearney: Indoctrination or a real education in ethics? (Australian EJournal of Theology February 2004)

Scottish cardinal accuses Govt of 'state-sponsored' child sex abuse (CathNews 1/9/04)

Let's talk about sex, urges Howard (Herald-Sun 10/2/05)

10 Feb 2005