United Kingdom

Catholic school sparks backlash after teaching pupils that gay sex is wrong

A top Catholic school has been slammed for teaching pupils that gay sex is wrong and men were 'created to initiate sexual relationships' while women are just 'receiver-responders'.

St Mary's Roman Catholic High School in Lugwardine, Herefordshire, has introduced the controversial 'A Fertile Heart' syllabus into lessons.

The programme opposes gay and lesbian marriage and states that men were 'created to initiate sexual relationships' while women were 'receiver-responders' of sex.

One chapter claims that men and women were designed to have specific roles, particularly in sex and relationships.

St Mary's Roman Catholic High School has been criticised for teaching pupils using 'homophobic and misogynistic' textbooks on sexual relationships produced and approved by the Catholic church

It suggests that 'man has been created to be the initiator in sexual relationships, and woman the receiver-responder'.

Another section says that homosexuality should be treated with 'sensitivity', but adds: 'We cannot deny the objective reality of sex being directed towards procreation and family, nor the link between this and marriage, commitment and parenthood.'

A link underneath goes to a Youtube clip of American Catholic campaigner Jason Evert, who argues that gay people cannot have 'real' marriage and should abstain from sex.

On the next page it suggests that the contraceptive pill is a 'moral danger' because is 'drives a bus through female fertility'.

St Mary's Roman Catholic High School in Lugwardine, Herefordshire, which teaches pupils aged 11 to 16, has introduced the controversial 'A Fertile Heart' syllabus into lessons

One chapter claims that men and women were designed to have specific roles, particularly in sex and relationships.

Another section says that homosexuality should be treated with 'sensitivity', but adds: 'We cannot deny the objective reality of sex being directed towards procreation and family, nor the link between this and marriage, commitment and parenthood'

The Key Stage books were produced by a group of priests from the dioceses of Birmingham, Cardiff, Clifton and Shrewsbury, and has been approved by the Archbishop of Birmingham.

The syllabus has received a mixed response from parents, with some saying it 'teaches children to be homophobic'.

Parent Graeme Walker, 45, said: 'The school is incredibly good at getting children to fulfil their potential but I have a big problem with A Fertile Heart.

'Not only are pupils taught that an out-dated and frankly homophobic view when it comes to same sex relationships, it's also unashamedly misogynistic.

'I have raised my concerns with the school but I fear my views have fallen on deaf ears. Success has made the school managers blind to any criticism.'

Another mum, who did not want to be named, supported the syllabus. She said: 'Parents know it's a Catholic school, teaching Catholic beliefs.

'I would say to people who do not approve of this programme to simply take your children out of the school.'

The teaching resource was approved by the Archdiocese of Cardiff and has been rolled out to 56 Catholic schools in Cardiff as well as St Mary's School.

Headteacher Stuart Wetson defended adopting 'A Fertile Heart', and said it provided pupils with a 'broad and balanced debate' on sex

Herefordshire Council's children and families cabinet member Felicity Norman has criticised the syllabus and called for it to be scrapped.

She said: 'It seems to be at odds with the essential role of a school to foster caring and cooperative relations between all children and staff, to respect differences and to support and encourage children as they negotiate the difficulties of adolescence.

'We are disturbed at the failure of the Archdiocese of Cardiff, responsible for directing its schools as to what it teaches, to respond to us over this or other matters concerning the safeguarding of children, in spite of attempts on our part to engage with them.

'The Local Authority has no power over what schools under the Archdiocese of Cardiff choose to teach within Herefordshire.'

St Mary's School, which celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2011, caters for 745 pupils aged 11-16 and is a centre of excellence for English and the arts.

Headteacher Stuart Wetson defended adopting 'A Fertile Heart', and said it provided pupils with a 'broad and balanced debate' on sex.

He said: 'In accordance with the Department for Education's guidance on Relationships and Sex Education, we are committed to providing our pupils with opportunities for broad and balanced debate on a range of issues whilst teaching distinctive faith perspectives on relationships.

'We continue to review and evaluate our practice, sharing feedback from teachers, pupils and parents with the Archdiocese of Cardiff and the publishers of key resources.

'Please see our most recent Ofsted and Section 48 Inspection reports, which comment directly on our "Outstanding" provision in all areas.'

In a statement, a spokesperson for the programme said it was 'designed primarily though not exclusively as a resource for Catholic schools', and that the current revised edition was 'in full conformity with the Church’s moral teaching' and had the 'endorsement and active support of several Catholic bishops'.

The spokesperson added they were 'sad' to hear councillors' concerns, and said some paragraphs in an earlier textbook 'were open to misinterpretation' and had been subsequently 'edited'.

Schools minister Nick Gibb said it was for schools to decide which resources they chose to support.

He added: 'The department has stated that schools should not work with agencies that take extreme positions, and this should also be reflected in the school's choice of resources.'

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