Parents are responsible for protecting the innocence of their children in regard to what they see, hear, and experience, especially in the media and schools, which are heavily invested in extremely harmful programs aimed at influencing and forming what children think about sexuality beginning in the preschool years. Parents must be on guard against the many voices trying to get their children's attention in order to form their thinking about sex, especially when they entrust their children's education to other people or institutions. Discussions about sexuality are often initiated under the guise of nice sounding subjects like education, health, family life, or safety. This vigilance is also important within the home, as many violations of a child's innocence occur in what children are allowed to see on television, in the movies, and on the internet and in what they hear in music on CDs and on the radio.
Parents should be aware that everyone involved in offering supplementary sexual education to their children outside the home has a responsibility to promote full disclosure to parents about the content and methodology being used. Yet, parents must not simply be satisfied with the word of another, or that large numbers approve, but they must investigate course materials themselves to see if both content and methodology are acceptable to them and conform to the teachings of the Church. A lack of vigilance and thoroughness in this crucial area may expose children to great harm and injury if they are permitted to participate in programs that violate their innocence, undermine parental authority, attack the family, and oppose Church teaching.
Parents who have done their homework and are aware of inappropriate content or methodologies are obliged to withdraw their children from these programs or classes; however, they are also responsible for providing their children with appropriate education and training at home. In this respect, they also have a duty to inform educators, principals, pastors, and all involved of the harmful effects of the program or class and to shed light on how they violate Church teaching (Cf. CCC, 907; Cf. Code of Canon Law, Can. 212 §3). Likewise, parents should alert family, friends, and those parents who have children at risk of the harmful effects of dangerous sexual education programs.
What Information is Being Taught?
Parents should not give consent for their children to participate in "any form of sexual instruction imparted outside the home" (TMHS, 120) before making a full review and preview of all classroom films, books, other materials and information that will be presented to their children. Laws mandating the inclusion of the homosexual lifestyle within all educational materials beginning in preschool is the most comprehensive effort to date to impose sexual education on children.
The Dangers of the Classroom Model
Even when parents have been given full disclosure and have conducted their own personal investigation of educational materials, they must be aware of the great dangers of allowing their children to participate in mixed classroom presentations about human sexuality. First of all, mixed classroom discussions of sexual matters directly contradict the Church norm for sexual education, that it be a private and personal dialogue between parent and child.
Second, each child in a mixed classroom setting will have different ideas or knowledge about human sexuality. Some may know anatomically correct definitions for body parts, while others may only know vulgar definitions and still others nothing at all. Having your child participate in classes with other boys and girls means that your child will probably be exposed to information about human sexuality that you do not want them to know yet. Third, after class is over, children will have learned that talking about sex in public is okay, so they may discuss with their friends what they just learned, or perhaps act it out, with unforeseen consequences. The mixed classroom setting is a very dangerous and explosive environment for engaging in these discussions. Again, the Church teaches that chastity formation and the sharing of other information about sexuality should take place between mothers and daughters or fathers and sons in "personalized dialogue" based upon "love and trust," (TMHS, 66-67) and that the "moral dimension must always be part of the explanation" (TMHS, 68).
The Teacher Risk
While most teachers may be well-intentioned, their individual teaching styles, methods of delivery, and lack of knowledge and/or conformity to Church teaching on sexuality could put your child at risk. Many teachers' moral codes and actions openly contradict Church teaching, especially concerning sex outside of marriage and the use of contraceptives and abortifacients. Even if a parent has researched all the classroom materials and decided to allow his or her child to participate, the teacher may introduce ideas, concepts, or information that are outside the scope of the materials reviewed, or begin answering students' "real life" questions in areas that should not be discussed. Is this a risk worth taking? Does any parent really want another man or woman who they may not even know forming their child's attitude or talking directly to their child about sexual matters?
The decision to allow or not to allow a child to receive classroom-imparted supplementary education about sex is a parent's duty and responsibility. By reviewing all the classroom materials, weighing all the risks, and understanding and applying Church teaching, a parent should be in a better position to determine whether the information will violate the faith or chastity of their child. If not, then, with an informed conscience, a parent can permit their child to participate in these classes. However, it would be wise to talk with the child every day to find out in detail what he or she has learned, to correct any information that is contrary to Church teaching, and to monitor for signs of any harm or damage the classes may be causing.
Both the Church and this book provide guidance to help parents be vigilant and to give them confidence in taking the appropriate action necessary to defend their own child's chastity and that of all children against those who would harm them either intentionally or out of ignorance. Parents are encouraged to be fully informed and to trust their "gut feelings" about negative influences which might be, or already are, producing negative effects in the personality of their children or harming relationships in their family. Parents should "consider any attack on the virtue and chastity of their children as an offence against the life of faith itself that threatens and impoverishes their own communion of life and grace" (TMHS, 21).