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In response to the publication of the ‘Flourish’ relationship and sex education programme by the Irish Bishops’ Conference, UCDSU is calling on the government to act and ensure the provision of objective sex education as a matter of urgency.

Conor Anderson, President, UCD Students’ Union said: ‘Effective RSE curriculum must be robust, objective and fit for purpose. The language in the vision statement and curriculum for the “Flourish” curriculum flies in the face of evidence-based policy. Whether intentional or otherwise, exclusionary educational practices will perpetuate stigmatised views of non-nuclear families and same sex relationships. The onus is on the Government to ensure that the NCCA syllabus is implemented without delay, and that any necessary legislative provisions are made to ensure that ethos will not act as an impediment to the delivery of objective sex education.’

Ruairí Power, Welfare Officer, UCD Students’ Union said;

‘Students are deeply concerned that despite commitments made in the Programme for Government to develop an inclusive programme for Relationships and Sexual Education at primary and post-primary levels, the language set out in the for the new “Flourish” programme falls far short of this. This programme contains a regrettable level of moralising about traditional family structures and perpetuates a heteronormative picture of sexual relationships. Instead of being presented with comprehensive, factual and inclusive information on LGBTI+ relationships, the flourish programme is steeped in outdated and damaging views of family structures and sexual relationships. LGBTI+ young people are at significantly higher risk of mental ill health, and the deliberate failure to put them on equal footing with their peers in the delivery of sex education is simply wrong.

Attempting to combat damaging attitudes at a post-primary and university level is proving impossible. Students are not being taught about consent, sex, and relationships at the correct age when their understanding of their peers and society is being formed. We need to equip children with the knowledge and tools to be able to navigate th

e world and ensure that every child has equal access to this information. We would not see the same need for massive campaigns and programmes to combat sexual violence in Third level institutions if every student arrived at college with comprehensive RSE education. There is a clear requirement for the state to step in and ensure that no student is left behind by a regressive, ethos driven RSE programme.’


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