Overhaul of schools sex education programme is planned
Catholic schools will be forced to teach children about gay, lesbian and transgender relationships under recommendations in a new report on sex education.
A draft report from the Oireachtas Education Committee calls for a radical overhaul of how sex education is taught in both primary and secondary schools.
Under the plans, both secondary and primary school children would be taught about gay, lesbian and transgender relationships "without distinction as to their heterosexual counterparts".
It also recommends changing legislation to ensure schools, such as those owned by the Catholic Church, are required to teach the new sex education programme - even if it is against their ethos.
It says "direction" should be given by the Department of Education on how schools and colleges under religious patronage should implement the new programme.
The report, which has been seen by the Irish Independent, calls for the current curriculum to be updated to take into account the significant changes in Irish society.
It says the sex education programme should be "fully inclusive of LGBT relationships and experiences, including sexual orientation, gender identity and the spectrums thereof".
It adds: "Consideration should be given to the inclusion within curriculums of LGBT specific sexual health issues and the presentation of LGBT relationships without distinction as to their heterosexual counterparts."
The report says the updated curriculum should be taught in primary schools in an "age and developmentally appropriate manner".
It also calls for the introduction of a system for recording incidences of homophobic or transphobic bullying in schools. Primary and secondary teachers would also have to provide classes on sexual consent under the reforms.
A curriculum on sex education for people with intellectual disabilities, including classes on sexuality and contraception, is also proposed.
The committee notes that there was a consensus from witnesses around the need for more education on pornography and abortion in schools.
However, the draft committee report does not make any recommendation on either of these issues.