Consequences of changing the Marriage Act: Education

Recently on catholicTalk, we began a series looking at the consequences of changing the definition of marriage.

Too often, we are told that the ushering of same-sex marriage will only affect those who will want to get married under the altered law.  Given that only 1% of Australian couples are homosexual, and that only about half of these want to get married, 99.5% of Australians are being told that this is none of their business.

It’s a nice story, but it’s not true.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull recently acknowledged this.  In an interview with the ABC, he said:

Changing the definition of marriage affects every Australian. It affects not just LGBTI Australians, it affects everybody.

As a career lawmaker, he has seen numerous examples of how changing the law changes the culture, and he knows that this is no different.

This week, we will look at how changing the laws on marriage will affect sex education in schools.

How does same-sex marriage affect sex education?

The proposition is simple.  If we change the law so that marriage is not exclusively heterosexual, then “equality” demands that sex education similarly cannot be exclusively heterosexual.  The result is that sex education becomes much more complicated and detailed than an explanation of “the birds and the bees.” 

The experience of other countries

We have seen this occur in other countries where same-sex marriage has been legalised.  For example, following the legalisation of same-sex marriage by a Massachusetts court, individual teachers emboldened by the change in law would bring explicit conversations about sexual activity in the classroom.  Year 8 teacher Deb Allen saw fit to explain the use of sex toys by lesbian couples to her class.

The most striking examples come from Canada, which has had same-sex marriage for a little over 10 years.  In Canada now, all schools – including Catholic schools – are required to teach a complex sex education program from primary schools.

It began slowly, with a Supreme Court ruling that “tolerance” required different forms of families, including those headed by same-sex couples, should be given “equal recognition and respect” in public schools by including picture books featuring LGBT parents for Kindergarten and Year One students. 

It then broadened from “family” education to sex education, with homosexuality introduced to Year 3 students, and oral and anal sex detailed to Year 7s.  When parents objected to this on the basis that it was not age-appropriate, the Canadian Supreme Court responded that “tolerance is always age-appropriate.”

We are already seeing it in Australia

This is not only the experience of other countries; it is happening in Australia.  Programs like Safe Schools and Building Respectful Relationships – under the guise of “anti-bullying” and “anti-violence” are teaching students about sexual experimentation.

One of the Safe Schools resources tells children that they have “two virginities,” one with a man and the other with a woman.  Another lists thirteen possible “gender identities” with which a student might want to identify.

A disturbing resource included in NSW Department of Education materials feature a colouring sheet of sorts which teaches children how to determine their gender identity, gender expression, biological sex and attractions.

When the existence of these materials was reported in the media, the response of the NSW Department of Education was to remove them from its website.  NSW also does not list the schools which have signed up to be “Safe Schools.”  This is concerning, given that even though it is a program aimed at high schools, it is reported that at least 75 primary schools are using the materials.  The lack of transparency around sex education should concern all parents, regardless of what you believe about same-sex marriage.

Same-sex marriage has consequences for every family

The underlying message in all of this is that same-sex marriage will affect everyone.  It will affect your children and grandchildren, and so the considerations involved extend far beyond deciding what you believe about whether two people of the same-sex can get married.  We need to think about what the results will be not only in the short-term, but in the medium- and long-term as well.

And by the looks of Canada and even the United States, the consequences are serious for everyone.

Monica Doumit, catholicTalk contributor


Thursday, 27 October 2016 00:00 Written by 


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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in CathTalk blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of all members of that of the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney.

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