Worries about special sex ed week in Scandanavian school
Christian parents worry about the sexual education lessons their grade-six children will receive this week at schools in Scandinavia. Week six is the week dedicated to education about sex and consent.
In the sixth week of the year, the NGO Sex og Politikk offers free teaching programs about sexuality for primary schools in Norway. The program is called “Week 6”, Vart Land reports. The organisation says that it wants to help teachers achieve the curricula, which require that students should be able to talk about gender identity and human reproduction after Grade 4. They should also know about their boundaries, violence and sexual abuse. This year, the theme of Week 6 is consent. More than half of the primary schools in Norway are registered to participate in the program.
Christian parents, who joined the Christian Parents' Network Facebook group, are afraid that the teaching materials will tell their children that many genders exist. "They have an ideological view of gender that is not rooted in natural science", says Peter Risholm, one of the group's moderators.
The network states in the description on Facebook that it is based on Christian values. It has over 2,000 members. Earlier, Peter Risholm started a petition which was signed more than 15,000 times, in protest against "gender-confusing teaching."
Many of them have responded negatively to the concept of "Week 6". "What is the point of discussing consent with children", one of the members writes. "heresy and untruths", another one adds. A third parent pleads for educating children about the topic at home. "You can take the child out of school and angle the topic your way."
Peter Risholm says to Vart Land that while knowing about consent is essential for children, the curriculum includes parts "that are based on information that children do not necessarily benefit from. It is about children receiving conflicting information about what gender is." He worries especially about a text that addresses teachers. It states, "it might be a good idea to have a conversation about gender before using the material, so you are sure that all the students are aware that gender is not just girls and boys."
In addition, he criticises a video that is part of the curriculum. It shows situations in which consent is required. One of the scenes includes two friends showing a nude picture to a third person. Risholm says that the imagery is pornographic and points out that the age limit for viewing porn is 18 years.
Dagen supplies worried parents with advice for Week 6. It consists of five points.
First, the writers of the article, Earl Haugland, general manager of Trust and Media, and Alexis Lundh, manager of HeltFri.net, advise parents to be the first and most important voice in their children's lives. "As a parent, you have a unique opportunity to give your children a good and valuable influence when dealing with questions about sex, the body, identity, boundaries and emotions." According to Haugland and Lundh, this is the best remedy against the wrong image porn may paint of sexuality.
Secondly, parents should use the opportunity that Week 6 offers them, namely, the topic of sexuality is raised. Often parents postpone the conversation with their children because they think it is embarrassing, Dagen writes. It can also be of help to contact the Church. "If this is talked about in a good way there, and you can have a plan for good cooperation between parents and congregation, this can create room for good conversations at home."
Thirdly, Christian parents should stress the positive sides of sexuality, the authors emphasise. "Say yes to the body as God's precious creation." They see the theme of consent as a good chance for parents to talk with their children about how God created humans as "whole people, with valuable bodies, beautiful emotions and important boundaries."
Fourthly, parents should not be afraid to discuss difficult topics related to sexuality, especially those contrary to the Christian faith, such as pornography. Parents can then stress the fact that "boundaries are given to us to protect us and for life to flourish", the article reads.
Lastly, parents are to be examples of faithfulness, charity and respect in these areas, the authors write. "The most important value to teach our children is not to make good moral choices, but to love God and embrace His good will for us."
In Sweden, where Week 6 is also happening around this time of the year, churches welcome children to talk about sex and cohabitation. That is reported by Dagen. A midwife will inform them about the physical sides of the issue and Church employees will discuss the emotions that are connected to sexuality, priest Ida Eklund from Höllviken's parish says to Dagen.
According to Eklund, the Church of Sweden started the project after local schools changed their sex ed curriculum. At first, it used to be called Sex and coexistence. Still, now it changed to Sexuality, consent and relationships, something the Church can play into, says Eklund.
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