New curriculum may conflict with rights of parents

‘Consent education’ may conflict with rights of parents

Advocates of Christian schooling are deeply concerned about the consequences of mandating consent education in the Australian curriculum.

Educators and parents are concerned the content, which has not been frankly disclosed, will have an anti-religious or anti-Christian foundation and conflict with religious precepts about marriage.

The consent education content required from 2023 will include discussion of coercion, gendered stereotypes and power imbalances—from foundation to Year 10, according to the Epoch Times.

On February 4, State Education Ministers unanimously agreed to “consent content” within the Health and Physical Education Curriculum, which had been strengthened significantly from the April consultation draft.

Ministers also agreed that ACARA should provide a revised Version 9.0 of the Australian Curriculum to the Education Ministers Meeting for approval by April 2022, as revealed by Senator Duniam’s at a Senate Estimates hearing on February 17 (see Hansard on page 6).

WHAT IS THE “CONSENT CONTENT”?

At this stage the draft curriculum is not available, so the only details are from media reports of leaked documents and comments made at a Senate Estimates hearing. .

According to unconfirmed media reports, the revised ACARA Version 9.0 would see “explicit references to teaching consent and respectful relationships adopted into the curriculum from foundation to year 10 in an age-appropriate way”.

The reports go on to indicate:

From years 7 to 10, teaching of the concept of consent will be tied to sex education, while the broader concept of consent will be embedded across the health curriculum from foundation years.

Explicit outcomes in the new curriculum will require students to “describe strategies for seeking, giving or denying consent and rehearse how to communicate their intentions effectively and respectfully”.

They will also have to apply skills and strategies to “communicate assertively and respectfully” in regard to consent, and examine strategies to support the development of respectful sexual relationships.”

WHO WAS CONSULTED?

The national and state governments do not appear to have to have consulted with parents, religious or community groups or the faith-based education sector on the details of the planned changes to the mandated curriculum.

According to international human rights conventions (e.g. ICCPR Article 18.4), it is the right of parents to know and oversee what children are taught regarding religiously considered moral and ethical content.

It is not known whether this mandatory “consent” content will conflict with the religious teachings held by many religions that are followed in Australia. In our multicultural society there may also be many ethic community with strong cultural factors which need to be considered.

For example, historical, orthodox Christian teaching considers all sexual activity should be consensual and within the confines of marriage between a man and a woman.

Christian and other faith-based schools already address the concept of “consent” by affirming the Christian teaching on the immorality and harm inflicted by coercive or non-consensual sexual activity.

Christian teaching about the dignity of all people, male and female, slave and free, was in Biblical times revolutionary, and provides the foundation on which Western culture has developed.

It is vital that we get this right. According to some  that re-examined the evidence for comprehensive sex education in schools, sex education programs can produce harmful effects on children.  Some programs been shown to  increase teen sexual experimentation, teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), number of sex partners, sexual activities, forced intercourse, or they decrease condom use in participants.

 

THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM

There are serious concerns raised about the efficacy of any ‘consent education’ in the context of a culture awash with pornography.

Women’s advocate Melinda Tankard Reist spoke out about this concern in an ABC-hosted article in 2021, and called out porn content as “the world’s most powerful sexual groomer” that ignores any concept of consent.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

It is essential that parents are involved in the finalisation of whatever is proposed by Ministers across the country in this area.

Parents must be given opportunities to provide timely input to this curriculum well before its final stages, when Ministers may argue that the content is ‘locked in’.

If there will be an effective response to community concerns in any area, Australia’s education ministers and their departments need to ensure that the whole of the multi-cultural community that is contemporary Australia is widely consulted and brought along on that journey.

ValuEd Voices will reveal a campaign about this soon.

EDUCATION EXPERTS ALARMED BY PROPOSED EARLY LEARNING CURRICULUM

Toddlers and preschoolers will learn about non-binary gender identity under a proposed new curriculum for early learning, according to a Herald Sun report on February 26.

Children should explore “aspects of identity formation that encompass gender identity and gender expression (with a non-binary dichotomy)”, according to a discussion paper produced as part of a review of childcare centres, preschools and outside school hours care.

The existing Early Years Learning and School Aged Care Frameworks do not mention non-binary identities.

Curriculum expert and educational consultant Kevin Donnelly said that the the review’s suggestions is full of jargon and imposes “a very adult view of quite complex issues” on young children.”

“Children should not be beholden to politically correct ideas,” he said.

“Why can’t children learn finger-painting and play?” he said.

“There is a big emphasis on multiple and changing identities and non-binary ideas — we thought children should be children.

“It’s a checklist approach which is overly bureaucratic. We should just focus on kids enjoying being children.”

The review, commissioned by Australia’s nine education ministers in 2020, will update the curriculum documents which guide educators in childcare, preschools and outside school hours care.