WCC Public Policy Positions: Promote Responsible Sexuality
Here we elaborate on each of the WCC's 2023 Public Policy Positions. The complete document can be found below. You can learn more about Catholic Social Teaching on the USCCB website.
Promote Responsible Sexuality. Sex education is primarily the responsibility of parents, not schools. Wisconsin must develop sex education with local parental involvement and must teach children why and how to avoid sexual activity. Sex education should not promote artificial contraception or the separation of gender from innate biological sex.
Nowhere, perhaps, is the Church more at odds with the wider culture than on the issue of human sexuality. In Amoris Laetitia (2016), the post-synodal apostolic exhortation addressing the pastoral care of families, Pope Francis reiterates the Church’s constant teaching, namely that “the overall education of children is a ‘most serious duty’ and at the same time a ‘primary right’ of parents. This is not just a task or a burden, but an essential and inalienable right that parents are called to defend and of which no one may claim to deprive them” (AL 84).
The Pope acknowledges that, “It is not easy to approach the issue of sex education in an age when sexuality tends to be trivialized and impoverished.” Instead, he emphasizes that “[t]he sexual urge can be directed through a process of growth in self-knowledge and self-control capable of nurturing valuable capacities for joy and for loving encounter” (AL 280).
“It is always irresponsible to invite adolescents to toy with their bodies and their desires,” he writes, because they “end up being blithely encouraged to use other persons as a means of fulfilling their needs or limitations. The important thing is to teach them sensitivity to different expressions of love, mutual concern and care, loving respect and deeply meaningful communication” (AL 283).
Pope Francis also refutes the two current notions that sex and gender can be separated and that sexual differences between men and women can be eliminated, recognizing that these undermine the reality of the family (AL 56).
Sound sex education should respect the dignity of the human person, emphasize personal virtue and responsibility, advocate for healthy relationships, and promote the value of family. Additionally, sex education should offer clear, accurate, and factual information on issues including sexual identity, puberty, and human reproduction, and be taught at the appropriate age and maturity levels.
In the end, education in human sexuality is not separate from but rather vital to the larger parental effort of helping children develop their inner strength and identity, one that recognizes children’s inherent dignity and creativity, and their need for love, self-giving, and responsibility.
Since parents are the primary formators of children, school-based sex education programs must respect the rights of parents to guide their children in all these ways.