Bucharest, April 29, 2020
According to a law promulgated by Romanian President Klaus Iohannis on April 3, schools are required to hold life and health education programs, including sex education classes, at least once per semester.
The Romanian Orthodox Church has issued a statement opposing the obligatory nature of the classes, calling for parents to be able to retain the right to decide how their child will be educated in such matters. Studies show that sex education in public schools can damage a child’s innocence and purity, the Church argues.
The Church’s press release is published in full (in Romanian) by the Basilica News Agency. Since March 13, the Patriarchate has sent addresses on the matter to the President, Prime Minister, and Minister of Education and Research.
“The compulsory enrolling of pupils in sex education programs is an attack on the children’s innocence, preventing their natural development and marking them for life,” reads Monday’s press release.
The Romanian Constitution stipulates that “parents or guardians have the right to ensure, according to their own convictions, the education of minor children whose responsibility they have” and that “freedom of thought and opinion, as well as freedom of religious beliefs cannot be restricted in any way. No one may be compelled to adopt an opinion or to adhere to a religious belief contrary to his or her beliefs,” the Church reminds.
Further, law no. 272/2004 provides that, “the child’s parents have with priority the right to choose the type of education to be given to their children.”
“Therefore, there is no objective reason for the state to impose an ideological model in the education of children, beyond the consent and beliefs of parents,” the Church concludes.
“We consider that the compulsory inclusion of students in sex education programs is an attack on the innocence of children, preventing their natural development and marking them for life. In this regard, several studies conducted in different countries have shown that such an approach to children's education has resulted in the beginning of sexual life earlier, with the necessary consequences, without any social improvement,” the press release continues, referring to a 2019 study on sex education in the United States that demonstrates that such programs are at best ineffective, and often lead to lead increased pregnancy rates in adolescence, risky sexual behaviors, and children beginning to have sex at an earlier age.
The Church also notes that sex education is not compulsory in many EU countries.
Numerous civil society associations in Romania have also raised their concerns about sex education in schools, calling instead for a greater emphasis on family education.
“We believe that the preparation for intimate and family life must be left primarily to the family who can correctly and objectively assess the stage of psycho-physical, intellectual and emotional development of the child,” the statement reads.
The Patriarchate states in conclusion:
Life also has a spiritual dimension, ignored in secularized contemporary society, which has lost the sacred meaning of human life. The Church has always attached great importance to the spiritual growth of man, who is called to eternal life in the love of God. Therefore, it is relevant to capitalize on the formative specificity of religious education, which contributes to cultivating a living and confessing awareness of the eternal value of the human person, promoting its dignity in the family and society and reducing the negative effects of the contemporary crisis of identity and orientation.