Sep 07, 2016 Print this article

Fight for Purity: Help Parents Oppose Graphic Sex-Ed at Catholic Father Ryan High School

Sign your urgent protest here

Why do parents send their children to Catholic schools? 

Of course, some are motivated by the higher academic standards and ordered environment, but the most important reason is the love of souls, the quest to reach Heaven. Catholic parents desire to transmit the Catholic Faith and high moral standards of the Church to the next generation, including the precious virtue of purity and chastity. 

What happens, then, when a Catholic school not only fails in this regard, but adopts a graphic sex-education curriculum as part of a theology course?

You are left with parents like Susan Skinner, who laments: “We don’t want the Catholic school to corrupt our kids… Why can’t Catholic schools simply be Catholic?"

Father Ryan High School, located in the Diocese of Nashville, Tennessee, has become a center of controversy after it introduced a mandatory sex-education class. Despite the protest of parents, the school has maintained that there is absolutely no way to opt-out – a right granted to parents in Tennessee's public schools.

The administration at Father Ryan High School, however, maintains that its explicit sex-ed program is “appropriate and necessary,” adding that “all students participate fully in all required classes.”

Parents are effectively expected to cede their right to be the primary educators of their children, even in moral matters.  This directly contradicts the teaching of the Catholic Church as Pope Pius XI teaches in the encyclical Mit Brennender Sorge that parents "...have a primary right to the education of the children God has given them in the spirit of their Faith, and according to its prescriptions. Laws and measures which in school fail to respect this freedom of the parents go against natural law and are immoral…”

Moreover, Pope John Paul II teaches in Familiaris Consortio that parents are the “first and foremost educators of their children” and that their capacity in this regard is “irreplaceable and inalienable.”  He adds: “Sex education, which is a basic right and duty of parents, must always be carried out under their attentive guidance.”

These statements alone should be enough to solve the dispute.

In spite of this, the Director of Communications for the Diocese of Nashville, Rick Musacchio, insists that the program, which includes salacious and graphic material (taught in a co-ed setting) is “in full conformity with Church teaching.” 

A cursory examination of the sex-ed content reveals otherwise.  Among material too graphic to repeat here, students learn about contraception, fornication, prostitution, and are encouraged to “go look it up” if they don’t know what something is.  What is not present, however, is a reference to sin or a condemnation of such blatantly immoral behavior.

One of the books used in the course is Growing Toward Intimacy by Bob Bartlett.  The author consistently quotes Fr. Richard Rohr, who encourages men to strip nude in pseudo-pagan rituals at his “retreats” and openly advocates heretical positions in regards to contraception, women’s ordination and homosexuality.

As one parent told, such material is a “near occasion of sin” for children.  Susan Skinner, whose son attends Father Ryan High School, agrees: "I just don't think my 14-year-old boy needs to see [graphic images] while a girl sits next to him in class. We were told this gets taught or you opt out of the school.  I'm trying to raise Godly children."