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This Thursday a report on objective sex education will be published Atheism

This Thursday, the Dail is debating the Oireachtas Education Committee Report on Objective Sex Education, which was published last January. Please contact your TDs between now and Thursday to ask them to speak on the issue in the Dail debate and support the report's recommendations.

The report recommended as the atheistic Ireland has demandedthat the law needs to be changed to remove the role of the ethos as an obstacle to the objective and substantive delivery of sex education curricula. A target date has been set for the end of the year when this should happen.

This report marks the first time that an Oireachtas committee recognizes that students have a right to an objective education for the state curriculum, including in denominational schools, outside religion, or the patron saint's value programs. All students have a human right to the objective, critical and pluralistic teaching of the state curriculum.

The committee members who published the report in February have all highlighted the importance of this right. They were Fianna Fail's Fiona O'Loughlin TD, Fianna Fail's Thomas Byrne TD, Labor's spokesperson for education, Jan O'Sullivan TD of the Green Party, Catherine Martin TD of the Green Party, and Senator Robbie Gallagher of Fianna Fail , Independent Senator Lynn Ruane apologized for not being there.

Paul Murphy TD of Solidarity was also at the start. The report affirms the argument for this key element of the Solidarity Sexual Education Act. This bill is currently in the Oireachtas, awaiting a government procedural decision that will allow it to move to the next stage after its adoption in the Dail. The Solidarity Act contains useful information that TDs should take into account during Thursday's debate.

The Oireachtas Education Committee has recommended that the Education Act 1998 be amended or at least revised so that ethos can no longer be regarded as an obstacle to the effective, objective and factual teaching of the RSE and SPHE curriculum to which every student is entitled.

The Committee also recommended that the necessary legislative changes needed to remove the role of the ethos as an obstacle to the objective and effective delivery of the RSE and SPHE syllabi be made as soon as possible, but no later than the end of 2019.

The Oireachtas Committee noted two circulars from the department. Circular 0023/20109 states that "information-based programs have very limited learning outcomes and are indeed counterproductive in influencing values, attitudes and behaviors".

On the other hand, Circular 0037/201010 recognizes the obligation of schools to have an RSE program based on the latest scientific knowledge and without censorship, withholding or deliberate misrepresentation of information such as contraception or other means of maintenance sexual and reproductive health ".

The Oireachtas Education Committee has been informed that the Education Act of 1998 needs to be amended because the NCCA has no legal authority over how the curriculum of school patron bodies is taught with their own religious ethos. Atheist Ireland emphasized this in our written statement and also when Jane Donnelly spoke to the committee on our behalf.

The Committee recommended that the DES clarify how schools and colleges under religious auspices should implement a comprehensive RSE program so that all children and adolescents receive equal treatment. The committee also recommended revising the Education Act of 1998 so that ethos can no longer be used as an obstacle to effective mediation of the RSE and SPHE curriculum.

This is the second time that an Oireachtas Education Committee accepts Atheist Ireland's arguments against the use of religious ethos in Irish schools. In 2014, the Committee concluded that multiple patronage and ethos as a basis for policy could lead to segregation and inequality in the education system.

Please contact your TDs between now and Thursday to ask them to speak on the issue in the Dail debate and support the report's recommendations.

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