All publicly funded schools should adhere to Government policy by including LGBTI+ relationships in all sex education programmes, the Tánaiste has said.
Leo Varadkar said the Government is very explicit on the issue and has included it in its Programme for Government.
He made the comments after a new sex education programme for Catholic primary schools stated that the Church’s teaching on marriage between a man and a woman “cannot be omitted”.
The Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) programme was developed by the Irish Bishops Conference. It also described how sex was a “gift from God”.
There are 2,800 Catholic primary schools around the country, accounting for 90pc of all primary schools.
Mr Varadkar said Taoiseach Micheál Martin and the Education Minister Norma Foley will make a statement on plans for sex education in primary schools.
Co-leader of the Social Democrats Róisín Shortall said that teaching children that relationships can be placed in a hierarchy depending on sexual orientation should be “anathema” in any modern republic.
“Last month, incredibly, the Vatican reaffirmed that the Catholic Church cannot bless same sex unions because God cannot, quote, ‘bless sin’,” she told the Dáil.
“That was the Church’s position. But it is not the State’s position, it is not the public’s position.
“Do we really want LGBTQ+ children in schools, who may be struggling with their sexual orientation, to be taught that their relationships are in any way less worthy, meaningful, loving, or deserving of respect than their heterosexual peers?
“Because that is the influence of this programme.”
Mr Varadkar said the Programme for Government will develop curricula for RSE and Social, Personal and Health Education (SBHC) across primary and post-primary schools, with a programme on LGBTI+ relationships.
“So that is the government position, and it is what we expect to be upheld in publicly funded schools,” he added.