Archbishop Georgios has come out in favour of sex education in schools saying it is better for children to be enabled to protect themselves than to be left uninformed.
The Archbishop’s statements came after a meeting with the minister of education and the school inspector in charge of monitoring the specific course, and approved of the sexual education curriculum as it stands, daily Philenews reports.
The Archbishop told the newspaper that “we should not be seduced by extreme voices, whether they come from circles in Greece or […] Cyprus, and leave the children in ignorance which makes them vulnerable to abuse.”
He added that assurances were given by the ministry that the courses offered would be closely monitored and that he would be kept informed. The issue will be raised at the next session of the Holy Synod which is expected to take a position on the issue.
Other church officials, in particular Paphos Bishop Tychikos took a differing position on the matter, coming out strongly against sex ed.
Despite repeated ministry assurances that the course is age-appropriate, pedagogically sound and necessary to prevent sexual abuse, and that teachers will be monitored, the Holy Diocese of Paphos in a circular on September 3 opposed the inclusion of sexual education as a compulsory subject at all levels.
The circular claimed the aim of the course is to “remove our children’s spiritual objections, blunt their moral sensibilities, and bulldoze the values of our two-thousand-year-old traditions and conscience.”
The new law on sex education which came under fire from concerned parent groups was approved at the end of last year and despite reservations about its constitutionality, came into effect on September 1.
Trooditissa Monastery also weighed in on the matter calling on parents to excuse their children from lessons.
“We reject the [curriculum’s] unprofessionalism, sloppiness, and false information, cunning motivations and unorthodox experimentation on our children,” the statement from the monastic community said.
They called on parents to advise their children to absent themselves from the courses, regardless of consequences, should the schools “dare introduce […] unacceptable, nonsensical and ridiculous” content.
Minister of Education, Athena Michaelidou, told the daily news source that sex education has already been taught in schools for 12 years with no change to the content since 2011, and invited those interested to view the course material on the ministry’s website. The only change has been its expansion to lyceums and technical schools.
“The purpose of the course is [to teach] healthy life skills, self-protection from sexual abuse, development of healthy relationships and correct behaviours, and zero tolerance for violence and bullying,” the minister said.