Sex Education in Parochial School

WARNING: This article features content of an explicit nature. 

The following editorial was published by the Washington Times on May 13 (reprinted by permission).

When I was a girl in Catholic school,” one middle-aged lady recently told this page, “ejaculations were short prayers we were supposed to say if we had an impure thought; kids in Catholic school today mean something entirely different.”

What they mean, of course, is precisely what their non-Catholic peers mean; and it has nothing to do with prayer and everything to do with sex. Catholic schoolchildren are using that word, and a lot of other words that make their parents and grandparents blush, not in giggling behind-the-hand whispers or even defiantly aloud. They are using them matter-of-factly in the classroom of their local parish school, with the blessing and encouragement of the teacher.

Let’s just let the teacher’s manual and text for the New Creation Series, one of the two most widely-used sex-education curricula in Catholic schools, speak for itself a bit:

First-grade teachers are instructed to refer to anatomically correct drawings of a boy and a girl baby, and to tell their pupils “that the boy has a penis between his legs, but the girl does not. The girl has a special opening between her legs that is called a vagina.”

In Grade 2, the children learn that, “Between a woman’s legs there are folds of skin called the vulva. Hair grows around some of this area on a woman and is called body hair or pubic hair…. The penis is tube shaped (or finger shaped) and hangs between a boy’s or man’s legs. Right behind and a little under the penis is the scrotum. The scrotum is like a soft bag made of skin.” There are, of course, illustrations to go along with this lesson.

Moving right along to Grade 3, which generally means age 8 or 9, we find the following: “Hair begins to grow in the armpits of a girl. Body hair, called pubic hair, also grows between the legs of a woman around the folds of skin, called the vulva. The vulva protects two openings into a woman’s body. One opening leads to the bladder where the body collects urine, which is released through the opening. The second opening is the bottom opening of the vagina…. Hair will also grow in the armpits and around the penis… as a boy grows up the penis becomes somewhat larger.” Meanwhile, the children’s workbook provides some interesting exercises: “Remember how you came to be,” proposes one. “Sperm from your dad joined with an egg from your mom. You were conceived. This happened when your father deposited sperm from his penis in your mother’s vagina. Write a diary letter. In the letter tell about two or all three of these ideas: i. Your mom and dad’s marriage. z. How you came to be. 3. God’s plan for creating new human life.” Another “activity” is a word puzzle in which the children are asked to find the listed words; and they are, in order of appearance: love, care, marriage, create, sharing, commitment, special, giving, covenant, pregnant, baby, name, family, sacrament, sperm, egg, penis, vagina, God and uterus.

Fourth grade? Teachers are urged to “Take some time to process the concept of sexual intercourse. For some children, this may be the first time they have been presented with what actually happens in reproduction.” Which is, as the children see in their text, that, “During sexual intercourse the man places his penis in the vagina of the woman. The sperm which comes out of his penis into her vagina may cause an egg from her ovary to be fertilized.” They are also learning that, “it is normal for semen to sometimes leak or shoot out of the penis.”

Fifth graders (ages 10 and II) studying the Family Life Program, the other leading Catholic sex-education curriculum, may be asked to “share” with their classmates the physical changes of puberty being experienced by their older siblings. And they will read that, “The penis is a fleshy, tube like organ located between a male’s legs, in front of the scrotum. It is made up of spongy tissue. Most of the time the penis is small, soft and flexible. At certain times, blood flows into the penis and causes it to become longer, wider, and firmer. This is called an erection. In order for the sperm cells to leave the father’s body, the penis must be erect.”

Sixth graders will discover that, “The prostate gland… adds a milky substance to the sperm, creating a liquid called semen … which travels through the urethra … and is then released from the body through the end of the erect penis. Semen is released from the man’s body in a series of spurts … called ejaculation…. Without the boy’s being very aware of it, his penis may become erect and an emission … may take place. This release is sometimes referred to as a nocturnal emission or ‘wet dream.’”

By the time they reach junior high school—by age 12-14, that is—the kids are ready for a program called Teen STAR (Sexuality Teaching with Adult Responsibility). Here they’ll be learning more, of course, about hormones, about sperm, and about male and female genitalia. But they’ll also be creating “learning charts” for themselves. Boys will chart their “arousals”—and discover that some of them have a lot of erections every day, some have them in the morning, some in the evening, some in the afternoon, and some not at all. Girls will be charting their vaginal mucus for signs of fertility and jotting down every evening “the wettest feeling of the day.” Then they will be asked to “share” their charts with the class (the course separates boys and girls during charting exercises, but each group learns about the other’s activity).

One high-schooler who went through the course summed it up very nicely: “At the start, my classmates and I barely discussed the course, except to whisper embarrassed questions in the girls’ bathroom during lunch. In a few weeks, we discussed it openly among ourselves and even with a male audience nearby. Shortly after that, we were pulling our charts out in the cafeteria or in study halls. My fertility is no longer a taboo subject, and I have discussed it and the class with numerous outsiders—curious adults, and friends at work. Face it, mucus is a great conversational piece.”

If the sex education curricula being taught in the Catholic schools seem suspiciously similar to those in the public schools, that’s probably because they are in many cases literally the same—with a few mentions of Jesus, Mary, and God thrown into the Catholic version.

Clearly the Catholic educational establishment has been entirely seduced by the claims of the sex education establishment that their programs foster chastity and protect children from unpleasant sexual consequences like venereal disease and pregnancy. The appalling increases in both—as well as the explosion of teen-age promiscuity—since sex education became fashionable 30 years ago have by now thoroughly discredited those claims. It is common knowledge that that discrediting doesn’t faze secular educators one whit. The surprise—particularly for parents who thought they might find a haven of decency in the Catholic schools—is that Catholic educators are just as indifferent to the truth about sex education as their secular counterparts.

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