Sex Education: CTS author writes on the role of parents


In his new booklet, Sex Education – A Parents’ Guide, John Timpson looks at the issue of sex education and how with the help of the Church, parents can make sure they do what is best for their children.

In the author’s following explanation of his own involvement in this field and the genesis of this text, he argues that sex education is something parents should take the lead on out of love for their children.

Three years ago I found myself deeply moved when the then-Government was planning to require all primary schools to provide sex education. To me, this flew in the face of the teaching of the Church that sex education must not occur in the years of innocence:

“This period of tranquility and serenity must never be disturbed by unnecessary information about sex.” (see the Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality, paragraph 78)

How could my heart not cry out at the thought that so many children would be troubled, and with consequences to follow as they grew into adolescence and adulthood?

But it is one thing to have a strong sense of injustice, it is quite another thing to act on that sense. I seemed to find myself powerless in front of what could well be an ‘unstoppable’ political decision. God, though, can provoke us to act when we can see no way forward. Several things kept the issue alive for me.

A friend asked me to sign a public letter condemning the proposals. I didn’t feel that I could sign this particular letter, but the request did prompt me to write a few letters of my own. The replies that came back only inflamed my desire to do some even more concrete.

And then one day I read a story of how a parent was taking the State of Quebec to court in Canada to try to ensure that his son’s school was not forced to teach ethics and religious culture from a neutral point of view. The article (John Zucchi, ‘Free not to be neutral’, Traces, 2009, No 7, July/August pp37-39) is available in the Traces archive at:

I felt a desire again to do something, and not just to leave things to others. But this time the idea also occurred to me that I could do something more substantial – write a booklet for the Catholic Truth Society.

It is, of course, much easier to think up an idea than to write a booklet, but now, several years later CTS is publishing Sex Education – A parents’ Guide.

The booklet is still needed, even though the legislation has not changed on sex education in primary schools. The message we hear in the media, from politicians and from health professionals can easily leave us thinking that the Church is out of date on these matters. But in fact there is plenty of good evidence that Catholic teaching on sexuality leads us to fulfilment rather than to misery.

It is clear, also, that parents are the ones best placed to pass on a fulfilling way of life to their sons and daughters. Who else is there who so deeply desires that a young person grow into a mature appreciation of their sexuality than a mother or father? Who else is so well placed to act on this desire, and in a way that respects the intimate dimension of sexuality? The booklet concludes that effective sex education is uncompromising in engaging the entire person and life of the parent. As parents we cannot simply hand this task over to others.

Sex Education – A Parent’s Guide by John Timpson is available from CTS priced £2.50

Of related interest:

Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality – This is a book for parents who want to prepare their children for adult life, especially with regard to sexuality. Taking Christ’s ‘self-giving’ as the model, it reflects on the universal call to ‘true love and chastity’.
PA1 Sexuality and Love – This booklet tackles some of the most difficult questions and shows how Christianity offers real freedom in living, rather than placing unreasonable limits on our behaviour.
DO750 Questions & Answers about Sex and Marriage – Dr Charlie O’Donnell answers 24 of the most common questions put to him by couples at marriage preparation classes. The beauty, practicality and advantages of the Church’s teachings on these issues are explained in this easy to read booklet.

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