Q: Archbishop J, who has responsibility for the education of a child?
A global movement is spending a lot of money in Trinidad and Tobago around the issue of gender and identity. You would have seen ads proposing that we follow other countries that allow children to decide their gender and begin irreversible medical procedures: if a pre-puberty child decides its gender is different from its biological sex, then the parents should give affirmation.
Furthermore, if the child chooses to transition, then the parents should also support this choice.
In some states in Canada, a child could transition without parental affirmation or consent. Parents there have run afoul of the law because they would not give their consent.
Good teachers in Loudoun County, Virginia, USA, have been disciplined because they would not use the preferred pronoun of the child. They have argued it would be lying to the child, and as parents and teachers, they could not do that.
CARICOM has been lobbied by the UN to introduce Comprehensive Sex Education (CSE) into the curriculum of all schools in the region. If CARICOM does this, it will take away the parents and children’s right to education in keeping with the faith and morality of the family.
CSE brings with it the most liberal and, I dare say, dangerous ideas around sex and gender. One Jamaican textbook for 12-year-olds assumes all the children are sexually active with multiple partners; there is no question of right and wrong. It is just a matter of what the child wants and feels good doing.
International Planned Parenthood Federation
More recently, International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) has set up shop in Trinidad. According to a fact sheet from the US Bishops Conference, IPPF is primarily in the abortion business. Second, they are in the gender business.
In an official publication from IPPF called Exclaim! They say: “Sexual rights are human rights and apply to everyone no matter what age. The ten core sexual rights outlined in the Declaration all relate to young people. Each right is equally important, so the order in which they appear does not mean that any is more important than the other.”
Under the right to equality the Declaration enshrines: “Removal of parental involvement or spousal consent laws that prevent young people from seeking sexual and reproductive health services” (p 17, Right 1,).
Under the right to privacy, it sees as essential: “Autonomy to make decisions about one’s sexuality in line with the evolving capacity of young people and without forceful interference from parents, guardians or other adult figures” (p 20, Right 4,).
After speaking about removal of laws that require parental approval, the seventh right calls for the “Liberalisation of abortion legislation to enable all young women to access safe abortion care” (p 23, Right 7).
What is interesting is that the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (Art five) states: “Parties shall respect the responsibilities, rights and duties of parents … to provide, in a manner consistent with the evolving capacities of the child, appropriate direction and guidance in the exercise by the child of the rights recognised in the present Convention.”
The right of the parents
All rights have corresponding responsibilities. There is a reason why most nations identify an age under which the child is considered a minor. It is because the child has not yet reached the level of maturity to hold the responsibilities that are associated with the rights. There is a reason why children are not allowed to have a license to drive cars or to buy alcohol or to do drugs.
Sadly, far too many 12-year-olds are thrust into the adult world of sex through play, pornography, and predators at home and elsewhere. This is greatly unfortunate. This should not be, and we should protect them as much as possible from being thrown into the world of sex—for as long as possible.
If, however, we are not speaking to our children at 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15 and 17 about sexuality and their bodies and their responsibility, we have let them down and left them unprepared for this over-sexualised world.
There is a growing push for state control over the education and formation of our children. This is a very dangerous movement.
Stalin in Russia, Hitler in Germany, and Mao in China all had very extreme control of education. This control aimed to captivate the minds, hearts, and imagination of the young. These leaders realised that for their ideology to spread unchallenged, they needed to control the young, even against their parents’ interests and wishes.
In Mao’s China, the young were set against their parents to spy and denounce them. Fidelity to Mao and the socialist ideology was paramount. It is estimated that nearly one million parents were killed in the revolution because they were denounced.
Whenever we see a government or world organisation seeking to push an ideology to the children, against the wishes of the parents, we should all be alarmed.
In a liberal democracy like Trinidad and Tobago, there are three main actors in the education of the children—the State, the family, and the religious institutions.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:
Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children. They bear witness to this responsibility first by creating a home where tenderness, forgiveness, respect, fidelity, and disinterested service are the rule. The home is well suited for education in the virtues. This requires an apprenticeship in self-denial, sound judgment, and self-mastery – the preconditions of all true freedom. Parents should teach their children to subordinate the material and instinctual dimensions to interior and spiritual ones (2223).
The Catholic position is that the parent has the responsibility to educate their children in a manner consistent to their values, religion, and outlook in life.
The Church has a responsibility to assist parents by providing a space for their children to be educated in a Catholic perspective.
The State has a responsibility to ensure every child receives a high-quality level of education. The three must work together for the good of every child.
There are international forces pushing us to their values. As a sovereign nation we need to have open conversations about what values we want to accept in T&T.
Read up on Comprehensive Sex Education and see if you agree it will be good for your child or grandchild. If you think it will be harmful, sign the petition