News / Edmonton

Alberta's Catholic superintendents defend abstinence-based curriculum

'As ongoing practice, resources in Catholic schools are framed from the Catholic perspective'

The Council of Catholic School Superintendents of Alberta is working on a parallel human sexuality curriculum, as the council anticipates touchy subjects making their way into the provincial government's curriculum rewrite.

MANAN VATSYAYANA / AFP

The Council of Catholic School Superintendents of Alberta is working on a parallel human sexuality curriculum, as the council anticipates touchy subjects making their way into the provincial government's curriculum rewrite.

Alberta’s Catholic school superintendents are defending their abstinence-based sex ed curriculum plan after Premier Rachel Notley said it denies science, evidence and human rights.

The Council of Catholic Superintendents of Alberta sent a statement to media Wednesday saying Catholic school representatives have been working with the government for the past year on the provincial curriculum development.

The statement also emphasises that the council's own parallel curriculum is intended to complement, but not replace, the provincial curriculum.

“Catholic schools in Alberta have always taught all prescribed curricular outcomes, including all of the outcomes of the health curriculum,” the statement reads in part. “As ongoing practice, resources in Catholic schools are framed from the Catholic perspective, and schools utilize diverse resources to support curricular outcomes.”

Documents outlining the proposed Catholic curriculum, which became publicly available Monday, advocate abstinence from any sexual activity in which the primary directive is not to reproduce.

That means no oral or anal sex, no masturbation, no contraception, and no sex at all for same-sex couples or unmarried couples.

They also state that “gender and gender identity are always linked to one’s natal birth or birth sex,” and take issue with teaching consent, stating that while “legal consent” is important, “we guard against a reductionist view of our human sexuality that consent is the most important factor in decision-making.” 

Sexual education advocates slammed the documents earlier this week, as did Notley and Education Minister David Eggen.

"Nowhere do the rights of religious freedom extend to that person's right to somehow attack or hurt others — and that's what's happening here,” Notley said Tuesday.

"We will not use public dollars to have sexual health programs that deny science, that deny evidence, and that deny human rights.”

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