Dáil debates

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Education (Health, Relationships and Sex Education) Bill 2021: Second Stage [Private Members]

 

11:22 am

Photo of Michael Healy-RaeMichael Healy-Rae (Kerry, Independent)

I would like to remind people that I respect all religions and none. I really mean that. Regardless of whether some people hate it, we are predominantly a Catholic country. I am very proud and glad of the influence that religion, including the Catholic religion, has had on all of our lives over the years. I thank people in the religious sector for the contribution they have made to education going back decades. That said, it must be acknowledged that wrongdoing was done by some people. Of course, it was horrible what was done by religious people but there are horrible people in all sectors of life. There are horrible politicians but not everybody is horrible. We cannot throw out the baby with the bathwater.

This Bill is telling us we need to stop using religion as a method to deliver relationship and sex education and that we have a shameful history in respect of sex education or the lack thereof. Reasonable people would agree that schools should play some role in educating children about their bodies and the consequences of sex. Are Irish parents, be they liberal or conservative or religious or non-religious, comfortable with adopting a Social Democrats' sex education plan that is not so much about biology as it is about assailing traditional values and encouraging behaviour that responsible adults know could potentially be terrible for children?

This Bill in my opinion and that of the Rural Independent Group represents the thin edge of the wedge. It represents a slippery slope where boundaries and matters such as gender roles and general identification become, not so much clouded, but would allow for the opening of a basket of confusion for children to decide on how they may wish to be identified. The Bill would open the school system for exploitation of revolutionary education and not in a good way. It would remove the role or choice from parents and place children in a conundrum of exploration at too young an age. We all very much appreciate, as we got it from our parents and grandparents, an ordinary, fundamental and basic start in life. Each one of us learned and picked things up in an ordinary way.

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