Christian Schools Australia CEO condemns Anglican church over sex-ed course

Teen Sex By The Book

Teen Sex By The Book

The head of Christian Schools Australia has attacked the Anglican Church and the former Archbishop of Sydney saying the church has lost its ability to speak to women in this generation.

CEO of Christian Schools Australia Stephen O'Doherty's comments come in the wake of disturbing allegations about sex education curricula available in schools. 

new report by researcher Deanne Carson has revealed that Teen Sex by the Book, a sexuality education resource developed by evangelical Christians, is available to be taught by special religious education (SRE) instructors in NSW public schools.  

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The resource uses the concept of headship, that man is the head of woman, and women are to voluntarily submit. That's a highly contested concept - even among Anglicans themselves – which earlier this year led to revelations that some women felt forced to submit to partner violence.  

O'Doherty says the former Archbishop of Sydney is wrong to advocate headship – the concept that men unquestioningly run marriages - and that it is utterly inappropriate concept for school age instruction.

"The previous Archbishop nullified the Church's ability to speak to women in this generation," he says.

Instead O'Doherty says: "We need to talk about rightful relationships." He says that headship should never be used  to encourage women to stay in violent relationships. "Nothing is an excuse for partner violence."

But there are other serious problems with Teen Sex by the Book and the parent-run lobby group Fairness in Religions in Schools (FIRIS) has raised further concerns about the content offered school age students.

The text also promotes sexual abstinence outside lifelong relationships. Yet another text says divorce happens because of "human sinfulness and ignorance".  Another says mistakes women make include talking too much – while both women and men give in to their bodily needs.

Kath Albury, an associate professor at the University of New South Wales, is a specialist in sexual ethics. She's shocked by the content in these resources.  

"There is a national curriculum which has been developed and has really clear guidelines about the kinds of content which should be included – and the focus should not be telling people they are sinful or ignorant."

That's a good point – at a time when all the figures tell us that men and women are unlikely to stay in one relationship all their lives – why not give practical and contemporary advice to young people.

Michael Flood, a leading expert on relationships and a senior lecturer in sociology at the University of Wollongong, says students should never be taught that sex is dangerous.

"It doesn't equip people to have healthy sexual lives. It doesn't treat them as people who will be sexual beings. And it's woefully out of step with contemporary gender roles and relations."

There is so much that's alarming in these resources, not least because they promote negative gender stereotypes and 'purity culture'. But even more frightening is the false information about the success of conversion therapy for sexuality which doesn't fit the stereotypes.

It could be happening in a classroom near you.

If it is, pull your child out quick smart.