Do you believe that the innocence of children should be protected at all costs?
As parents, grandparents, caregivers and educators are the morals and values of children important to you?
The Catholic Church in Trinidad and Tobago is deeply concerned over some aspects of the Gender Ideology debate underway both in our local and global societies. The conversation is complex and highly sensitive, which has caused significant confusion within our homes and communities. If you would like clarity around this issue please read our frequently asked questions section. We encourage all concerned Catholic families to use our materials as a starting point and to do your own extensive research around this issue.
It is our aim to communicate the Church’s position and information about the wider debate, and its implications for us here in Trinidad and Tobago as clearly as possible, while holding the core truth and teaching of Jesus Christ, that all life is a gift, which is precious to God.
It is not the role of the Church to judge any life that God has placed here. However, it is our role to guide our faithful to a place of well-being through a deeper connection to God. This path to God is determined by the morals and values we set for ourselves and our homes. In doing so, we must ask:
Should Catholic families not have the right to determine the morals and values that exist within their homes and daily lives? Is this not our right?
Parents are often the first educators of their children and hold certain rights and responsibilities in guiding the minds and hearts of all within the family. One of our concerns around the Gender Ideology conversation currently underway is the implementation of the Comprehensive Sexual Education (CSE) curriculum proposed by certain bodies of the United Nations.
Under the newly proposed CSE curriculum the rights of parents and caregivers are severely diminished. Children as young as ages 3-5, could be exposed to sexual education in classrooms, sometimes without the knowledge and the consent of the parent or caregiver.
We would also like to highlight that the United Nations General Assembly and the World Health Assembly have NOT endorsed the Comprehensive Sexual Education Curriculum (CSEC)
According to a 2018 article in the Center for Family & Human Rights:
“[T]he General Assembly resolution rejected a broad notion of “sexuality” in sex education, understood to refer to social norms that emphasise sexual autonomy, in favour of a narrower health-centred approach. Western donor states reacted saying they would promote comprehensive sexuality education all the same.”
The same article goes on to state:
“The curriculum objectives of UNESCO will cause controversy and consternation. It recommends helping children as young as five to identify ‘trusted adults’ other than their parents to “help them understand themselves, their feelings and their bodies.”
A 2021 article about the World Health Assembly response states:
“The UN system’s guidance on sexuality education also promotes access to contraception and abortion for children—so much so that abortion industry giants like International Planned Parenthood Federation, and UN agencies openly admit that comprehensive sexuality education programs is designed to create ‘demand’ for their services.”
The article also notes:
“Questions also remain about the efficacy of comprehensive sexuality education programs. Despite claims that ‘comprehensive sexuality education’ is necessary to protect children’s health, there is no evidence that comprehensive sexuality education reduces risk-taking behavior, HIV/AIDS transmission, the transmission of other sexually transmitted diseases, and teenage pregnancy. On the contrary, a recent global review of comprehensive sexuality education programming found evidence that it does the opposite.”
What is the Gender Ideology Debate All About?
To fully comprehend the gender debate, we must first understand that the words “sex” and “gender” are not interchangeable. Now:
- Sex is seen as defining which of the two biological categories (from the original feminine-masculine dyad) one belonged to.
- Gender, on the other hand, would be the way in which the differences between the sexes are lived in each culture.
The Vatican’s document, “Male and Female He Created Them: Towards a Path of Dialogue on the Question of Gender Theory in Education” states:
“This separation is at the root of the distinctions proposed between various “sexual orientations” which are no longer defined by the sexual difference between male and female, and can then assume other forms, determined solely by the individual, who is seen as radically autonomous.
The concept of gender is seen as dependent upon the subjective mindset of each person who can choose a gender not corresponding to his or her biological sex, and therefore with the way others see that person (transgenderism).”
The debate around gender has caused significant confusion within societies globally. Nevertheless, one of the Church’s main concerns around the debate is the position that “gender” is “assigned at birth”.
What is the Church’s Official Position on the Gender Debate and conversation?
The Vatican has released its definitive statement on the issue of Transgenderism in the document “Male and Female He Created Them: Towards a Path of Dialogue on the Question of Gender Theory in Education”.
Within this document the Church has shown apprehension around the fact that, “this [proposed gender] ideology inspires educational programmes and legislative trends that promote ideas of personal identity and affective intimacy that make a radical break with the actual biological difference between male and female.”
Pope Francis has publicly expressed deep concern over this ideological shift. According to religionandpolitics.org, “Pope Francis, speaking to bishops in Poland in 2016, expressed shock that, ‘today children – children! – are taught in school that everyone can choose his or her sex. Why are they teaching this?’ [Pope Francis has] called such “terrible” lessons an “ideological colonisation.”
What is Gender Dysphoria and Is it Real?
Gender Dysphoria is a real but rare condition. But, what is it exactly? According to NHS.UK:
“Gender dysphoria is a term that describes a sense of unease that a person may have because of a mismatch between their biological sex and their gender identity.
This sense of unease or dissatisfaction may be so intense it can lead to depression and anxiety and have a harmful impact on daily life.”
Further, “according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, gender dysphoria prevalence accounts for 0.005–0.014% of the population for biological males and 0.002–0.003% for biological females.”
What is Comprehensive Sexual Education (CSE)?
UNESCO states that CSE is:
“[A] curriculum-based process of teaching and learning about the cognitive, emotional, physical, and social aspects of sexuality. It aims to equip children and young people with knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values that will empower them to: realise their health, well-being, and dignity; develop respectful social and sexual relationships; consider how their choices affect their own well-being and that of others; and understand and ensure the protection of their rights throughout their lives.”
However, the Church has serious concerns over the graphic nature of some aspects of CSE curriculum and the normalisation of gender ideologies, without the consent of parents. Is childhood not a time of innocence in which children should be protected from ideas and imagery that would be considered, “inappropriate”, “graphic” or “explicit” in nature?
According to comprehensivesexualityeducation.org:
“Many CSE programs teach children about sex, sexuality, or sexual pleasure as young as age 5. World Health Organization (WHO) programs have CSE concepts targeting children from as early as 0 to 4 four years old.”
Further, and most importantly, the scientific research purported by the UN around the efficacy of the CSE curriculum and its reduction in risky sexual behaviours has come into serious question and disrepute. We encourage you to read further and explore for yourself the academic findings around the true impact of CSE programs.
Is Comprehensive Sexual Education Effective?
The peer-reviewed published study by Ericksen, Irene H., and Weed, Stan E. (2019). “Re-Examining the Evidence for School-based Comprehensive Sex Education: A Global Research Review.” Issues in Law and Medicine, 34(2):161-182 states the following:
Conclusions. Some of the strongest, most current school-based CSE studies worldwide show very little evidence of real program effectiveness. In the U.S., the evidence, though limited, appeared somewhat better for abstinence education.
How Should Each of Us Treat with Members of the Transgender Community?
With full dignity, compassion and respect. His Grace Archbishop Charles Jason Gordon has unequivocally stated that all people are a gift from God and should be treated with the utmost respect and love.
According to Male and Female He Created Them,
“The primary outlook needed for anyone who wishes to take part in dialogue is listening. It is necessary, above all, to listen carefully to and understand cultural events of recent decades.”
…[There is a] need to educate children and young people to respect every person in their particularity and difference, so that no one should suffer bullying, violence, insults or unjust discrimination based on their specific characteristics.”
Further, Pope Francis has demonstrated in his pastoral approach how we should treat with members of the transgender community. Quite simply, the Holy Father has said, “Who Am I to Judge?”
AP News (Associated Press) quotes Pope Francis:
“Keep working in the culture of encounter, which shortens the distances and enriches us with differences, in the same manner of Jesus, who made himself close to everyone.”
The first Jesuit pope of the Roman Catholic Church has spoken of his own ministry to gay and transgender people, insisting they are children of God, loved by God and deserving of accompaniment by the church.”
How will Gender ideology impact Families?
Male and Female He Created Them states:
“Gender theory (especially in its most radical forms) speaks of a gradual process of denaturalisation, that is a move away from nature and towards an absolute option for the decision of the feelings of the human subject.” (The move away from our natural state to decisions based purely from the individual human perspective).
“In this understanding of things, the view of both sexuality identity and the family become subject to the same ‘liquidity’ and ‘fluidity’ that characterize other aspects of post-modern culture, often founded on a confused concept of freedom in the realm of feelings and wants, or momentary desires provoked by emotional impulses and the will of the individual.”
With this shift in ideology, are we teaching our young people to value relationships less, whereby impacting the long-term stability of the family unit?
“The duality in male-female couples is furthermore seen as in conflicting with the idea of “polyamory”, that is relationships involving more than two individuals. Because of this, it is claimed that the duration of relationships, as well as their binding nature, should be flexible, depending on the shifting desires of the individuals concerned. Naturally, this has consequences for the sharing of the responsibilities and obligations inherent in maternity and paternity.
This new range of relationships become ‘kinship’. These are: based upon desire or affection, often marked by a limited time span that is determined, ethically flexible, or even (sometimes by explicit mutual consent) without any hope of long-term meaning.”
What Are Some of the Health Concerns Around "Transitioning"?
In this interview, journalist and interviewee, Helen Joyce, comments on the closure of the Tavistock Gender Identity Clinic in the UK. Ms Joyce discusses the severe risks associated with the medical pathway of gender transitioning, which include sterility. In the interview she states, “nobody knows the long-term impact of this particular pathway because the research has been so poor”.
What Action Can I Take To Get Informed About this Conversation and Debate?
Keep following this page for regular updates on information emerging on the gender debate and conversation.
Contact Us: Communications@catholictt.org
Keep Informed with Further Resources, Reading and Videos
- “World Health Assembly Rejects Comprehensive Sexuality Education”
- Examples of the CSE Curriculum
- “Parents At Elite NYC Private School Outraged Over Graphic Sex Ed Videos Shown To First Graders”