Faith issues - Schools need to include all

Pure in Heart, an Irish Catholic youth ministry, has sparked controversy over a classroom role play exercise it uses to promote the value of chastity.

A student from a school in Dublin said a girl and boy had their wrists bound together with Sellotape which was then torn by the youth minister as a metaphor for the painful separation of single couples in a sexual relationship.

Students from rural schools have since come forward to complain that they had been told by representatives of Pure in Heart that masturbation causes depression and the use of condoms is wrong.

Whilst respecting the ethos of voluntary schools, it is a reality that in many parts of the country, people of other faiths or none will attend Catholic schools as the only realistic alternative. In that context, it is incumbent that school managers should always seek permission of both parents and students before allowing outside agencies to deliver talks on such sensitive issues.

Some Government oversight is also needed over such groups to ensure compliance with the education acts.

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