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Dear Mrs. [Principal]
You have requested that I provide intimate sex-education instruction, detailing the "facts of life" to my Catholic school students. This is to respectfully decline to comply with your request, for that would involve taking an action explicitly forbidden by the Catholic Church.
This internet posting has been set up to fully explicate the reasons for my deciding to obey the Church, at the same time that I am disobeying you for reasons of conscientious objection. I don't take my decision lightly, and it is my hope that the seriousness with which I regard this situation is reflected in the care with which this site has been prepared.
You have requested that I teach sex-education curriculum - especially the mechanics of sexual intercourse. You have provided for this under the name of "family life education," from a text-book that seems to honor the Church's teachings in very many respects, save one: that
The teaching of the Catholic Church about sex-education is contained within its age-old tradition, teaching that it is mainly the family's responsibility to provide education for the Virtue of Chastity forming the whole person.
In this sense, secular sex-education, which emphasizes healthy clinical sexual functioning of the child, is inside out, for it does not take into account the spiritual development of the person. A Catholic "sex-education" which seeks in some way to imitate Secular sex-education - the two worlds are unlikely ever to converge on any of their authentic, fundamental positions - is moving away from the ancient Catholic tradition and the moral guidance protections it has historically afforded the individual, family and society.
In the Catholic vision, the family has the primary responsibility to form the child for chastity,
A teacher in a classroom with 10, 20 or 30 vigorous, boisterous children, can never come to know the individual child with anything approaching the familiarity of the parents.
Moreover, a teacher's limited interaction with a child for a single year of its life, can never qualify her for the difficult task of providing the primary spiritual formation of the child,
The timing of some of these stages for an individual child, will be out of sync with those of the hypothetical, "average" child, some in advance and some behind.
No teacher, acting as a mere educational specialist, can supplant the parents in exercising the intimate knowledge of the child, complete with understanding about the child's maturity level, strengths and weaknesses, required to properly form him or her for chastity. Children cannot be "batch processed" through their spiritual formation, turned out as certified spiritual educational successes the way a factory stamps out interchangeable parts. Their formation for chastity must be custom tailored by the parents, with the assistance of the Church, the schools and, whenever possible, society.
To the extent that the Catholic schools take some leadership role in regards to chastity formation (which contains sex-education), it may be to reinforce the parents' role, perhaps monitoring the child's chastity formation and encouraging the parents to properly undertake it.
But group instruction in the schools, especially in the mechanics of sexual intercourse, can never meet the primary criterion of the sex-education component of Catholic chastity formation,
The best use of that can be made, of the Catholic schools' unique opportunity to influence parents and children for the better towards chastity formation, is to help the parents acquire home educational materials especially designed by competent, qualified Catholic educators who appreciate the primacy of chastity in the sex-education of children.
To this end, the text you provided may be of use if sent home to the parents, though that could only be certain if it were one of the texts approved by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops.
But there is no way that the children's dignity, privacy and innate chastity can be respected while proceeding to provide group instruction in so intimate a subject.
Because of this, I am respectfully declining to provide such instruction, in the classroom, with the text you provided or with any other. I will be happy to work with you in developing a program of properly assisting the parents to impart this intimate information within the proper domain of their primacy as the first educators of their children.
Mrs. [Catholic School Teacher]
Note: Mrs. Teacher was soon discharged from service, on the basis of administratively irregular, "poor" evaluations—this despite continual improvement in her students' test scores.
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© 1998 Devonne Keevers