HUMAN SEXUALITY EDUCATION
Diocese of Toledo
Catholic Youth and School Services
1933 Spielbusch – P. O. Box 985
Toledo, Ohio 43697-0985
Growing to maturity in faith and in human relationships is a life-long process
which each person strives to complete with God’s grace and with the assistance
of family, community, and others who are particularly prepared to foster faith
and human growth. The Church has had a continual interest in and concern for
the total growth of human persons. For example, in November, 1983, the
Congregation for Catholic Education published guidelines for the universal
Church entitled Educational Guidance in Human Love: Outlines for Sex
Education. This document called on those involved in the Church’s catechetical
ministry to provide prudent and effective catechesis for human sexuality:
. . . there is urgent need to give positive and gradual effective sex
education to children, adolescents and young adults, paying
attention to the dispositions of Vatican Council II. Silence is not a
valid norm of conduct in this matter . . . . (EGHL, #106)
Since 1983, John Paul II, various Vatican congregations, and the National
Conference of Catholic Bishops have also issued documents related to the area of
human sexuality, the family and education. Of particular interest is the 1991
document, Human Sexuality: A Catholic Perspective for Education and Lifelong
Learning, which states the intention of the United States Bishops regarding this
aspect of catechesis:
. . . as an Episcopal Conference of Bishops representing the dioceses
throughout the United States, we believe it is our responsibility to
offer a broader, more national vision, reflecting for the Catholic
people of the United States the rich tradition and teaching of the
universal Church in the area of human sexuality. (HS: ACP, p. 2)
In light of Human Sexuality: A Catholic Perspective for Education and Lifelong
Learning and other recent Church publications, the Toledo Diocese’s 1987
document, “Human Sexuality Education,” was reviewed and revised. This 1998
revision is offered to continue to provide direction and suggestions for
implementing catechesis for human sexuality along with the 1995 Religion
Courses of Study which recommend that catechesis for human sexuality be an
integral part of a parish or school catechetical program.
“Human Sexuality Education” is written particularly for Principals of Catholic
Schools and Catechetical Leaders in Parishes; teachers and catechists, and those
who have responsibility for the planning and implementation of catechetical
programs in parishes and schools. The document recognizes the rights and
responsibilities of parents as primary educators in catechesis for human
It is our hope that this manual will continue to serve as a frame of reference for
education and formation in human sexuality according to our Catholic tradition.
It is not meant to be so restrictive in nature that those using it are prevented from
responding to various situations, events and issues which may affect them or
their children in their lived experience.
Catholic Youth and School Services extends deep gratitude and appreciation to
the Human Sexuality Committee comprised of elementary and secondary
teachers, school nurses, and the Family Life/Respect Life Department for
spending more than a year in the revision of the 1987 “Human Sexuality
Education” document. Special thanks for their support, suggestions, and
commitment to this project.
Lucy Abu-Absi, Director of Family Life/Respect Life Department,
Diocese of Toledo
Sharon Baumgartner, Teacher, Our Lady of Consolation School,
Beth Beier, School Nurse, Lial School, Whitehouse/St. Richard
Shelley Brossia, Assistant Principal, St. Rose School, Perrysburg
Sue Conrad, Nurse and Instructor, St. Francis deSales High School,
Jennifer Croak, former Teacher, St. Francis Education Center,
Sr. Mary Ann Culpert, SND, Educational Consultant, Sisters of
Rachel Drouillard, Teacher, St. Mary School, Mansfield
Judy Geiger, School Nurse, Immaculate Conception School, Port
Brenda Goshe, School Nurse and Religion Department
Chairperson, St. Wendelin High School, Fostoria
Pat Mouch, Assistant Principal, Our Lady of Perpetual Help School,
Terrie Raymond, Assistant Principal, St. Joseph School, Sylvania
Jayne Swemba, Teacher, St. Joan of Arc School, Toledo
Peggy Vega, Teacher, St. Francis Education Center, Sylvania
Krista Wilson, Teacher, St. Peter School, Mansfield
Dawn Young, Teacher, St. Patrick of Heatherdowns School, Toledo
Chair: Sr. Miriam Eble, SND, Diocesan Director of Religious
I. ROOTED IN SCRIPTURE
Sacred Scripture provides a foundation from which to understand and share the
richness, depth and beauty of human sexuality. Parents and those involved in
education in human sexuality should be encouraged in their efforts by the
affirmation which Sacred Scripture provides--and which serves as a basis--for a
Catholic theological understanding of the role of sexuality in the life of each
Beginning with the creation accounts in Genesis and concluding with the
accounts of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, we find a recurring theme of
God’s calling us out of ourselves into loving relationships with others. Because
we bring to these relationships our sexual selves, it is incumbent upon each
Christian to learn how to use his/her sexuality in accord with the general
principles of our faith as taught in Scripture and in our tradition.
Some scripture references follow:
A. Hebrew Scripture (Old Testament)
Genesis 1: 26-27
Then God said: “Let us make humankind in our image, after our likeness.
Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and the
cattle, and over all the wild animals and all the creatures that crawl on the
ground.” God created humankind in God’s image; in the divine image God
created them; male and female God created them.
Genesis 2:18, 21-24
The Lord God said: “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a
suitable partner for him.” So the Lord God cast a deep sleep on the man, and
while he was asleep, God took out one of his ribs and closed up its place with
flesh. The Lord God then built up into a woman the rib which had been
taken from the man. When the Lord God brought her to the man, the man
said: “This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh: This one
shall be called woman, for out of ‘her man’ this one has been taken.” That is
why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of
them become one body.
B. Christian Scripture (New Testament)
Jesus replied: “This is the first: ‘Hear, O, Israel! The Lord our God is Lord
alone! Therefore you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and
with all your strength.’ This is the second, ‘You shall love your neighbor as
yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
I Corinthians 6:19-20
You must know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is within--
the Spirit you have received from God. You are not your own. You have
been purchased, and at a price. So glorify God in your body.
Husbands should love their wives as they do their own bodies. He who loves
his wife loves himself. Observe that no one ever hates his own flesh: no, he
nourishes it and takes care of it as Christ cares for the Church--for we are
members of his body. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and
mother, and shall cling to his wife, and the two shall be made into one.” This
is a great foreshadowing; I mean that it refers to Christ and the Church. In
any case, a man should love his wife as he loves himself, the wife for her part
showing respect for her husband.
I John 3:2-3
Dearly beloved, we are God’s children now; what we shall later be has not yet
come to light. We know that when it comes to light we shall be like God, for
we shall see God as God is. We who have this hope based on God keep
ourselves pure as God is pure.
II. CHURCH DOCUMENTS
To help parents and their children meet the challenges of education for human
sexuality, the Church has presented a theology, a vision and a set of principles in
recent documents. Recognizing that this education is a life-long process, the
Church realizes the magnitude of the challenge for all Christian women and men
to understand their sexuality and to integrate their understanding of it fully into
Human Sexuality: A Catholic Perspective for Education and Lifelong Learning
offers the following nineteen principles regarding sexuality:
1. Precious Gift:
• Human sexuality is a divine gift, a blend of spirit and body that shares in God’s
creative love and life.
• We approach human sexuality with a deep and abiding sense of
appreciation, wonder, and respect.
• The divine becoming human adds greater dignity to our being embodied,
sexual beings. Through Jesus’ birth, life, death, resurrection, and
promised return, we can become our best selves, able with God’s help to
overcome temptation of any kind.
• The human body is good. We are enfleshed sexual beings, male and
• In our efforts to love, we make real and incarnate God’s goodness, love,
• Respect for the human body is reflected in how we care for ourselves
physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
• Created in God’s likeness, we are called to a life of loving and being loved.
Love is the basic vocation we all share. We begin with love, continue in
love, and reach our fulfillment of love through, with, and in God when we
• The desire to be loved and to love, to be united with one another, is a
deep-seated and natural yearning.
• Love involves personal decision characterized by commitment, self-
sacrifice and perseverance.
• Our sexuality, as distinct from sexual activity, is an innate force that can
draw us out of ourselves into loving relationships.
• While we are called to incarnate the image of God in the way we live and
love, the gift of human sexuality also can be abused, sometimes
intentionally, sometimes through immaturity or ignorance.
• Temptations to subvert our human desires, including sexual ones, into
purely selfish aims or to manipulate others in human relationships have
been experienced in our hearts and in human history.
• We are aware of our own frailty and sin as well as God’s abiding presence
and promise of forgiveness.
• As members of the Church, we draw strength, comfort, and renewed
challenge from the Word of God, the Eucharist, and the healing and
strengthening power of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
6. Call to Holiness
• There is a universal calling in every human heart to be personally whole
and spiritually holy.
• Dealing creatively with one’s own sexuality--gender, sexual feelings,
desires--is a fundamental challenge in every person’s quest for maturity
• Spirituality, rightly understood, implies a lifelong process of conversion.
In both, we look at our lives in the light of God’s love, try to live out the
death-resurrection-present reign of Jesus in everyday circumstances, and
change those things that isolate and alienate us from God, self, and one
• Blending moral and values-based formation with clear and factual
information is the best approach to sexuality education, whether done in
the family setting or in more formal programs or in some combination of
• Educators in human sexuality must both teach and listen. They need to be
able to convey the Church’s teachings with authority, candor, sound
reasoning, fidelity, and a sensitivity to the age and maturity level of their
audience. They must also take time to listen to questions, concerns, and
insights; to respect learners’ integrity and sincerity; and to facilitate their
ongoing conscience formation.
• Each person has an obligation to form a correct conscience. It is the
responsibility of Catholic educators to assist (the person) in the process of
articulating church teaching in its entirety and in its integrity.
9. Moral Decision Making
• The Church believes there are objectively right and wrong answers to
moral dilemmas. The process of moving from absolute values to general
norms to specific case judgments requires the virtue of prudence, the
ability to exercise sound judgment in practical matters.
• Discernment of moral choices involves the formation of a correct
conscience by a process of using one’s reasoning ability, the sources of
divine revelation (Scripture and tradition), the Church’s teaching and
guidance, the wise counsel of others, and one’s own individual and
communal experience of prayer and grace.
10. Roles and Responsibilities
• Parents and the family comprise the first and most important context for
sharing faith, forming attitudes, fostering values, and sharing information.
Children have a right to life, education, bodily integrity, and the means for
holistic human development.
• The role of the Church in human sexuality education is one of both teacher and
• Professional educators assist parents in fulfilling their educational
responsibilities. They represent the wider Church and society. The
profession of educating in human sexuality is a call to model and
articulate what it means to be a mature sexual person.
• Education in human sexuality is a cooperative venture among parents,
schools, Church, and the wider society.
11. Personal Responsibility
• Each of us is entrusted by God with the awesome responsibility to guide
and direct our gift of sexuality wisely and lovingly.
• At best our sexuality calls us to personal maturity and interpersonal
12. Sexuality and Sex
• Sexuality refers to a fundamental component of personality in and
through which we, as male or female, experience our relatedness to self,
others, the world, and even God.
• Sex refers either to the biological aspects of being male or female (i.e.,
synonym of one’s gender) or to the expressions of sexuality, which have
physical, emotional, social, and spiritual dimensions.
13. Sexual Beings
• We are sexual beings from conception to death.
14. Equality of Male and Female
• Both man and woman are persons- -equal yet distinct.
• Man and woman share a basic mutuality.
• Every person is a sexual being, called to be chaste; that is, to do what is
sexually responsible for one’s state in life.
16. Genital Sexual Intimacy
• The gift of the body in sexual intercourse is a real symbol of the giving of
the whole person.
• The Church’s teaching on genital sex is rooted in a profound respect for
the dignity and uniqueness of human persons.
• Genital sexual union has its true meaning and moral integrity only in the
context of marriage.
• Outside the context of marriage, genital sexual intimacy, however well
intended, is not an expression of total self-giving. Objectively speaking, it
is morally wrong.
• Marriage is both a unitive and procreative community of love, bound by
an unbreakable pledge of fidelity, a covenant that is deeper than any civil
• Christian marriage is a sacrament by which man and woman profess to
each other solemn vows of love and fidelity, which serve as the outward
sign of an interior reality.
• Marriage is a lifelong sacrament. The ongoing growth in understanding
and living the sacramentality of marriage begins with remote and
immediate preparation for marriage and continues with support
throughout the years of married life.
18. Single Life
• The single way of life represents a wide variety of life-styles in our
culture; temporarily or permanently single, divorced, separated, and
• Mature, single persons, seek a careful balance between a healthy
independence, with a reasonable degree of privacy and freedom, and the
need for love, including genuine intimacy and community belonging.
• Celibacy accepted for the sake of the reign of God serves as a complement
to the vocation of marriage.
• Celibates choose not to give their life to any one person and are
challenged to share it generously with many people.
• Sexuality is a dynamic element in the life of ordained, vowed, and
EXCERPTS FROM OTHER CHURCH DOCUMENTS ON
FAMILIARIS CONSORTIO, On the Family, Pope John Paul II, November
36. The Right and Duty of Parents Regarding Education
The task of giving education is rooted in the primary vocation of married couples
to participate in God’s creative activity. By begetting in love and for love a new
person who has within himself or herself the vocation for growth and
development, parents by that very fact take the task of helping that person
effectively to live a fully human life. As the Second Vatican Council recalled,
“Since parents have conferred life on their children, they have a most solemn
obligation to educate their offspring. Hence, parents must be acknowledged as
the first and foremost educators of their children. Their role as educators is so
decisive that scarcely anything can compensate for their failure in it. For it
devolves on parents to create a family atmosphere so animated with love and
reverence for God and others that a well-rounded personal and social
development will be fostered among the children. Hence, the family is the first
school of those social virtues which every society needs.” (“Gravissimum
The right and duty of parents to give education is essential, since it is connected
with the transmission of human life; it is original and primary with regard to the
educational role of others on account of the uniqueness of the loving relationship
between parents and children, and it is irreplaceable and inalienable and,
therefore, incapable of being entirely delegated to others or usurped by others.
37. Educating in the Essential Values of Human Life
. . . The family is the first and fundamental school of social living: As a
community of love, it finds in self-giving the law that guides it and makes it
grow. The self-giving that inspires the love of husband and wife for each other is
the model and norm for the self-giving that must be practiced in the relationships
between brothers and sisters and the different generations living together in the
family. And the communion and sharing that are part of everyday life in the
home at times of joy and at times of difficulty are the most concrete and effective
pedagogy for the active, responsible and fruitful inclusion of the children in the
wider horizon of society.
Education in love as self-giving is also the indispensable premise for parents
called to give their children a clear and delicate sex education. Faced with a
culture that largely reduces human sexuality to the level of something
commonplace, since it interprets and lives it in a reductive and impoverished
way by linking it solely with the body and with selfish pleasure, the educational
service of parents must aim firmly at a training in the area of sex that is truly and
fully personal: for sexuality is an enrichment of the whole person--body,
emotions and soul--and it manifests its inmost meaning in leading the person to
the gift of self in love.
Sex education, which is a basic right and duty of parents, must always be carried
out under their attentive guidance whether at home or in educational centers
chosen and controlled by them. In this regard, the church reaffirms the law of
subsidiarity, which the school is bound to observe when it cooperates in sex
education, by entering into the same spirit that animates the parents.
EDUCATION GUIDANCE IN HUMAN LOVE, Outlines for Sex Education,
Congregation for Catholic Education, November 1, 1983
51. Openness and collaboration of parents with other educators who are co-
responsible for formation will positively influence the maturation of young
52. The full realization of conjugal life and, in consequence, the sanctity and
stability of the family depend on the formation of conscience and on values
assimilated during the whole formative cycle of the parents themselves. Moral
values seen in the family are transmitted to the children more easily. Among
these moral values, respect for life in the womb and, in general, respect for
people of every age and condition have great importance. The young must be
helped to understand, appreciate and respect these fundamental values of
In view of the importance of these elements for Christian life and also in the
perspective of a divine call to the children to the priesthood or consecrated life,
sex education acquires an ecclesial dimension.
54. The difficulties which sex education often encounters within the bosom of
the family solicit a major commitment on the part of the Christian community
and, in particular, of priests to collaborate in the education of the baptized. In
this field the Catholic school, the parish and other ecclesial institutions are called
to collaborate with the family.
69. . . . the role of the school should be that of assisting and completing the work of
parents, furnishing children and adolescents with an evaluation of “sexuality as value
and task of the whole person, created male and female in the image of God.”
(“Familiaris Consortio,” #32)
79. The mature personality of the teachers, their training and psychological
balance strongly influence their pupils. An exact and complete vision of the
meaning and value of sexuality and a peaceful integration within the personality
itself are indispensable for teachers in constructive education. Their training
takes shape according to environment. Their ability is not so much the fruit of
theoretical knowledge, but rather the result of their affective maturity.
86. In order to make a valid contribution to the harmonious and balanced
development of the young, teachers must regulate their teaching according to the
particular role which falls to them. The pupil neither perceives nor receives in
the same manner from different teachers the information and motivation which
they give, because different teachers affect his or her intimacy in a different way.
Objectivity and prudence must characterize such teaching.
89. Given the importance of sex education in the integral formation of the
person, teachers, taking account of the various aspects of sexuality and of their
incidence in the global personality, are urged in particular not to separate
knowledge from corresponding values which give a sense and orientation to
biological, psychological and social information. Consequently, when they
present moral norms, it is necessary that they show how to find their “raison
d’etre” and value.
94. Sex education must lead the young to take cognizance of the different
expressions and dynamisms of sexuality and of the human values which must be
respected. True love is the capacity to open oneself to one’s neighbor in
generosity and in devotion to the other for the other’s good; it knows how to
respect the personality and the freedom of the other; it is self-giving, not
108. In accomplishing her mission the Church has the duty and the right to
take care of the moral education of the baptized. The contribution of the school
in all education, and particularly in these matters which are so delicate, must be
carried out in agreement with the family. This presupposes in teachers and in
others involved, whether implicitly or explicitly, a correct criterion for the
purpose of their contribution, and training in order to be able to treat these
matters with delicacy and in a climate of serene trust.
109. . . . The outcome of this education will depend largely on the human and
Christian vision in which the educator presents the values of life and love.
110. The Christian educator, whether father or mother of the family, teacher,
priests or whoever bears responsibility in this regard, can be tempted today
above all to demand from others this task which needs such delicacy, principle,
patience and courage, and which requires committed generosity in the pupil. It
is necessary . . . to reaffirm that this aspect of education is first a work of faith for
the Christian and of faithful recourse to grace. Each aspect of sex education, in
fact, is inspired by faith and draws indispensable strength from it and from
grace. The letter of St. Paul to the Galatians puts self-control and temperance
within the ambit which the Holy Spirit, and he alone, can establish in the
believer. It is God who bestows light, it is God who grants sufficient strength.
SHARING THE LIGHT OF FAITH, National Catechetical Directory for
Catholics in the United States, 1979, “Sexuality and Catechesis,” #191.
According to the Second Vatican Council, “as they (children and young people)
advance in years, they should be given positive and prudent sexual education.”
(Dogmatic Constitution on the Church) Education in sexuality includes all
dimensions of the topic: moral, spiritual, psychological, emotional, and physical.
Its goal is training in chastity in accord with the teaching of Christ and the
Church, to be lived in a wholesome manner in marriage, the single state, the
priesthood, and religious life. Sexuality is an important element of the human
personality, an integral part of one’s self-understanding (i.e., as male or female)
and a crucial factor in one’s relationships with others.
Many experiences have some potential bearing, positive or negative, upon
education in sexuality; and virtually all catechists and educators have at least
some potential responsibility in this regard, whether or not they ever deal
directly with the matter.
Education in sexuality must always be given with reverence and respect, which
extend to the language used. More than that, all have a need for catechesis in
sexuality in the context of religious values. The God-given dignity and beauty of
sex and the sanctity of marriage and family life should be emphasized. Christ’s
love for the Church is the model for the love between husband and wife. (cf.
Eph. 5:25) To abuse the sanctity of love and marriage is anti-sexual, contrary to a
proper understanding of sexuality, and in violation of God’s will and command.
Catechesis calls particular attention to the role of self-control, self-discipline,
prayer, and reception of the sacraments, and devotion to the Blessed Mother,
model of chastity, as elements in developing a Christian approach to sexuality.
Catechesis should call attention simultaneously to the essential equality of men
and women and to the respect due the uniqueness and complementarity of the
Education which helps people understand and accept their sexuality begins in
infancy and continues in adulthood. The best catechesis for children comes from
the wholesome example of their parents and other adults.
However, many parents need assistance in catechizing their children on this
subject. The Church can be of great help in this matter. Parents will find help in
suitable reading materials and audio-visuals, in family life education and other
instructional programs. Appropriate materials can be used by parents in giving
instructions to their children. Catechists should help parents be competent and
at ease with respect to content and methodology. Catechists themselves need
. . . education in sexuality has been introduced under different titles into public
school systems as well as many Catholic schools and parish catechetical
programs. Some courses and programs treat sexuality in a comprehensive
manner, including its physical aspects along with the rest; but others deal almost
exclusively with physical aspects without reference to values or ethics. This is
unfortunate, for human sexuality involves much more besides the physical.
Education in sexuality should be given in an integral manner.
The primacy of the parental right in education obviously extends to children’s
formation in relation to sexuality. Blessed with the grace of their state of life,
parents are presumed to know and understand their children better than anyone
else. Parents--especially those with some special familiarity with education in
sexuality--should be invited to take part in planning, presenting, and evaluating
programs. They should be involved in developing or assessing the philosophy
and objectives of such courses and should have opportunities to examine
proposed curricula and materials before they are introduced into the classroom.
It is helpful for parents to become acquainted with teachers who will instruct
their children. Also, when possible, parents themselves should participate in the
instruction, either regularly or occasionally.
Parents have a right and duty to protest programs which violate their moral and
religious convictions. If protests based on well-founded convictions and accurate
information are unsuccessful, they have a right to remove their children from the
classes, taking care to cause as little embarrassment to the children as possible.
Even after their reasonable requirements and specifications have been met,
however, some parents may remain anxious about education in sexuality. They
should not let their feelings express themselves in indiscriminate opposition to
all classroom instruction in sexuality, for that would not be consistent with the
position of the Second Vatican Council and the bishops of the United States.
Furthermore, to the extent such opposition might impede or disrupt responsible
efforts along these lines, it would violate the rights of other, no less
conscientious, parents who desire such instruction for their children.
THE RELIGIOUS DIMENSION OF EDUCATION IN A CATHOLIC
SCHOOL: Guidelines for Reflection and Renewal, The Congregation for
Catholic Education, Rome 1988.
42. Partnership between a Catholic school and the families of the students
must continue and be strengthened: not simply to be able to deal with academic
problems that may arise, but rather so that the educational goals of the school
can be achieved. Close cooperation with the family is especially important when
treating sensitive issues such as religious, moral, or sexual education, orientation
toward a profession, or a choice of one’s vocation in life. It is not a question of
convenience, but a partnership based on faith. Catholic tradition teaches that
God has bestowed on the family its own specific and unique educational
43. The first and primary educators of children are their parents. The school
is aware of this fact, but, unfortunately, the same is not always true of the
families themselves; it is the school’s responsibility to give them this awareness.
Every school should initiate meetings and other programs which will make the
parents more conscious of their role and help to establish a partnership; it is
impossible to do too much along these lines. It often happens that a meeting
called to talk about the children becomes an opportunity to raise the
consciousness of the parents. In addition, the school should try to involve the
family as much as possible in the educational aims of the school--both in helping
to plan these goals and in helping to achieve them. Experience shows that
parents who were once totally unaware of their role can be transformed into
HUMAN SEXUALITY: A Catholic Perspective for Education and Lifelong
Learning, USCC, 1990
Underlying Christian Convictions (pp.13-14)
Human sexuality, a core dimension of the human need to love and to be loved, is
a gift from God, which commands appreciation, wonder, and respect. “Sexuality
is an enrichment of the whole person--body, emotions and soul--and manifests
its innermost meaning in leading the person to the gift of self in love.” (FC #37)
Being sexual, like being intelligent or athletic or gifted in any other way, is a two-
edged experience. We can respectfully direct this gift in a manner reflective of
our human dignity and God’s gracious design, or we can misuse or even abuse
ourselves and others by irresponsible sexual actions.
The incarnation and redemptive life, death, resurrection, and promised return of
Jesus Christ make available the inspiration and grace to respond more fully to
God’s invitation to live a sexually responsible life.
. . . With God’s abiding love and grace, shared with us in and through the cross
and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and now made available to all humanity
through the Spirit who dwells in human hearts, and who acts in a special way
through the Church and the sacraments, we can now live and love responsibly as
male and female. With God’s help, we can experience, enjoy, and make wise and
loving use of one of God’s special gifts, our human sexuality.
Chastity: A Universal Challenge (pp. 19-20)
Woven through every search for genuine love, for personal maturity, and for
interpersonal commitments, is a call to be chaste, sexually responsible, and
appropriate for one’s particular vocation or state of life. Chastity “consists in self-
control, in the capacity of guiding the sexual instinct to the service of love and of
integrating it in the development of the person.” (EGHL#18) Chastity is often
misunderstood as simply a suppression or deliberate inhibition of sexual
thoughts, feelings, and actions. However, chastity truly consists in the long-term
integration of one’s thoughts, feelings, and actions in a way that values, esteems,
and respects the dignity of oneself and others. Chastity frees us from the
tendency to act in a manipulative or exploitive manner in our relationships and
enables us to show true love and kindness always.
It is not easy to be chaste in contemporary American society. A natural curiosity
about sex and a sincere desire for intimacy are given greater license by peer
pressure and a culture that romanticizes and trivializes all things sexual. A
person seeking maturity and balance, someone striving to live Christian love,
“practices the virtue of chastity by cultivating modesty in behavior, dress, and
speech, resisting lustful desires and temptations, rejecting masturbation,
avoiding pornography and indecent entertainment of every kind, and
encouraging responsible social and legal policies which accord respect for
human sexuality.” (NCD #105)
In attempting to present the principles of sexual morality to children and
adolescents, the Church strives to assist the young to become aware of Catholic
teachings without, at the same time, creating excessive feelings of guilt, shame,
or discouragement. In the past, too many adolescents have withdrawn from the
practice of their faith and disparaged the Church rather than facing their
shortcomings and seeking forgiveness, since their exaggerated feelings of guilt
seemed, to them, unbearable.
The authors of Educational Guidance in Human Love suggest that in order to
move toward maturity in the affective dimensions of sexuality, one needs to
learn self-control, “which presupposes such virtues as modesty, temperance,
respect for life and others, openness to one’s neighbor.” (EGHL #35) Modesty
and temperance both involve a sense of balance, an ability to dress and act
appropriately in given situations. The old adage “Moderation in all things”
captures, to some degree, the spirit of these two related virtues or good patterns
for living one’s vocation responsibly. Underlying and grounding the practice of
modesty and temperance is a deep and abiding respect for life, one’s own and
that of others . . . .
Moral Decision Making and Personal Discernment (p. 25)
Aware that conversion is a gradual process, John Paul II suggests that the image
of the Church as “teacher” and “mother” is apt. As teachers, we must never tire
of proclaiming objective moral values and norms as we discern them across the
centuries. But, like a caring mother or father, we must remain close to those who
“find themselves in difficulty” believing or living some important aspect of the
Educators in human sexuality must develop this same skill. They must be able to
convey the Church’s teachings regarding sexual morality and the various
vocations in life with authority, candor, sound reasoning, fidelity, and a
sensitivity to the age and maturity level of their audience. At the same time,
effective educators must take the time to listen to questions, concerns, and
insights from the learners; to respect their integrity and sincerity; and to facilitate
their ongoing search for knowledge and a deeper understanding of truth about
the mystery of human sexuality.
Education in Human Sexuality--Parents, Schools, Religious Education and
Church as Partners (pp. 74-75)
In a Catholic context, the purpose of . . . education in human sexuality, whether
formal or informal, is threefold:
1. To give each learner an understanding of the nature and importance of
sexuality as a divine gift, a fundamental component of personality, and an
enrichment of the whole person--body, emotions, soul--whose deepest meaning
is to lead the person to the gift of self in love.
2. To give each learner an appreciation of chastity as a virtue that develops a
person’s authentic maturity and makes him or her capable of guiding the sexual
instinct in the service of love and integrating it into his or her psychological and
3. To give each learner an appreciation of the human and Christian values
that sexuality is intended to express and to lead each learner to a knowledge of,
respect for, and sincere personal adherence to the moral norms regarding
sexuality that are taught by the Church.
Sexuality education is not reducible to a set of simple teaching materials about
human organ systems and their biological functions. Nor can it be taught in one
isolated course or in the abstract realm of theory alone. The ultimate objective of
education in human sexuality is the personal realization of total sexual identity
and the affective maturation of the learner. This includes not only mastering
data related to one’s sexual organs, hormones, and bodily functions, but also
acquiring a more mature perception concerning oneself, interpersonal
relationships, and the human and Christian values at stake. Over time, the
learner will develop a sense of self-control appropriate to his or her vocation in
life and mature in understanding sexual morality in accord with the Church’s
teaching and tradition. Such understanding will enable each learner to realize
that the constant struggle to live in accord with the Christian vision of sexuality
is sustained by divine grace, through the Word of God received in faith, through
prayer, and through participation in the sacraments. Information about sexual
functions and human reproduction is inextricably linked to formation in human
values and Christian morality. (pp. 74-75)
REFLECTION ON “THE TRUTH AND MEANING OF HUMAN
In 1995 the document, “The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality: Guidelines
for Education Within the Family,” was issued by the Pontifical Commission for
the Family. This document seemed to negate the 1991 “Human Sexuality: A
Christian Perspective,” issued by the United States Bishops. By putting
emphasis on the parents’ role in sexuality education, “The Truth and Meaning”
statement was perceived to be strongly against any sexuality education programs
presented in Catholic Schools or Parish Religious Education programs.
Following is Bishop Anthony Pilla’s (President of NCCB) clarification of the two
Bishop Anthony Pilla, President of National Conference of Catholic Bishops
“The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality: Guidelines for Education Within
the Family” issued by the Pontifical Council for the Family serves only to
enhance and not undermine the 1991 National Conference of Catholic
Bishops/U.S. Catholic Conference document “Human Sexuality: A Catholic
Perspective for Education and Lifelong Learning.” We wish to address in this
brief analysis the complementarity of both documents, focusing on the role of the
church, school and religious education programs vis-a-vis parental rights and
When “Human Sexuality” was published by the U.S. bishops, it was in response
to the Congregation for Catholic Education’s document “Educational Guidance
in Human Love,” which requested that “these guidelines, therefore, should be
adapted by the respective episcopates to the pastoral necessities of each local
church” (No. 3). This 1983 Vatican document concludes:
The Congregation for Catholic Education turns to Episcopal conferences
so that they promote the union of parents, of Christian communities and
of educators for convergent action in such an important sector for the
future of young people and the good of society. The congregation makes
this invitation to assume this educational commitment in reciprocal trust
and with the highest regard for rights and specific competencies, with a
complete Christian formation in view. (EGHL, #111)
Thus, drawing on a variety of Vatican and NCCB/USCC sources, especially the
Congregation for Catholic Education’s “Educational Guidance in Human Love”
(1983), Pope John Paul’s “Familiaris Consortio” (1981), the Congregation for the
Doctrine of the Faith’s “Declaration on Certain Questions Concerning Sexual
Ethics” (1975), Vatican II’s “Declaration on Christian Education” (1965) and the
conference’s “Sharing the Light of Faith,” the U.S. Bishops in this country wrote
their document “to guide our diocesan leaders in their service to parents,
parishes and other church-related institutions as they design and implement
programs of formal instruction in human sexuality from a Catholic perspective”
(“Human Sexuality,” p. 2). While clearly affirming the Catholic educational
tradition that parents have the primary responsibility of educating their children
in matters of human sexuality, as in all things, “Human Sexuality” notes:
Others, however, play vital auxiliary roles in the process by which children and
adolescents come to understand their sexuality and its expression. Here, we seek a
delicate balance between seeing the proper education of our Catholic young people as
primarily and ultimately the responsibility of one’s parents. (HS: ACP, p. 2)
This approach, which sees the church, schools and religious education programs
as assisting, complementing and supporting parents in the education of their
children, now finds further expression and clarification in the Pontifical Council
for the Family’s recent contribution.
The two documents “Human Sexuality” and “The Truth and Meaning of Human
Sexuality” complement one another and affirm both the gift of human sexuality
and the role of the parent as primary educator. The two documents differ
somewhat in tone and in audience focus. While “Human Sexuality” is addressed
to diocesan leaders and lays out general principles, the pontifical council’s
document is written primarily to parents, and centers on the problems that can
and have arisen in this area. In doing so, the pontifical council provides some
welcome warnings in regard to the dual problems of sexually permissive
cultures and of poorly done, values-neutral, overly explicit sex education
programs. The Pontifical Council for the Family sounds a clarion call for parents
not to shirk their God-given responsibility to educate their own children in
matters of love and sexuality as well as to be vigilant concerning school-based or
institutional programs designed to assist them in this task.
Previously “Human Sexuality” stated:
Diocesan leaders are encouraged to assist parents whose children are
enrolled in school to become actively involved in the formation,
implementation and evaluation of programs for education in human
sexuality. Exercising their role as parents, they need the support and
assistance of the church as they work to ensure that schools respect the
values of the family and their faith tradition. (HS: ACP, p. 76)
The strong warnings of the pontifical council can be misunderstood or
misinterpreted as condemning all institutional programs. While the Pontifical
Council cautions against poorly done sexuality instruction and while it rightly
defends both the innocence and modesty of children, it would be incorrect to
interpret this document as opposed to well-done Catholic-based sexuality
education programs or as a negation of the orthodox efforts of the Vatican’s
Congregation for Catholic Education and the NCCB/USCC.
Other educators can assist (parents) in this task, but they can only take the
place of parents for serious reasons of physical or moral incapacity.
(“Truth and Meaning,” #23).
It further states:
For parents by themselves are not capable of satisfying every requirement
of the whole process of raising children, especially in matters concerning
their schooling and the entire gamut of socialization. Subsidiarity thus
complements paternal and maternal love and confirms its fundamental
nature, inasmuch as all other participants in the process of education are
only able to carry out their responsibilities in the name of the parents,
with their consent, and, to a certain degree, with their authorization.
(“Truth and Meaning,” #23)
“The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality” raises rightful cautions
concerning parental responsibility as well as respect for the innocence and
modesty of children and is a welcome guidance to the Church in this challenging
area. It is important to underscore that the document from the pontifical council
does not lend support to those categorically opposed to Church or school
assistance in sexuality education. “The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality”
does not contradict or negate the core doctrinal and religious education content
of “Human Sexuality,” but only enhances it.
ROLES IN HUMAN SEXUALITY EDUCATION
The United States Catholic Conference states:
We believe that education in human sexuality is a cooperative venture
in which parents or guardians, as primary educators, are assisted by
schools, the Church, and the wider society, focusing on the physical,
psychological, moral, social, and spiritual development of each child or
learner. (HS: ASP, pp. 69-70)
Therefore, the specific groups for providing catechesis for human sexuality
• Parents/Primary Caretakers
• School or Religious Education Program
- Principals and Catechetical Leaders
- Teachers and Catechists
• Parish Community
- Pastors/Pastoral Leaders
- Parish Community
II. PARENTS/PRIMARY CARETAKERS:
A. General Qualities:
Parents must be affirmed and supported as the first and foremost
educators of their children, especially with regard to human sexuality.
(On the Family, #37) Children receive an implicit education in human
sexuality from the values, attitudes, relationships and language that are
part of their daily living. For parents it is helpful to remember that values
are “caught,” not taught. (Educational Guidance in Human Love, #49)
Generally, it is agreed that parents/primary caretakers who strive to carry
out good catechesis in sexuality in the home will endeavor to do the
1. Live out in their personal lives the Church’s teachings on sexuality so
that, in partnership with the wider community of Church, their
children are presented with a coherent view. (EGHL, #50)
2. Create and maintain an atmosphere of love, affection and trust in the
3. Be persons of prayer, striving to live out Gospel values.
4. Worship regularly with their parish community and participate
regularly in the sacramental life of the church.
5. Create an attitude of openness in which listening, questioning and
dialogue about sexuality can take place (EGHL, #49).
6. Collaborate with other educators who are co-responsible for the
formation of their children (EGHL, #51).
B. Primary Roles:
Parents/Primary Caretakers are encouraged to:
1. Be actively involved in the planning, developing and evaluation of
catechesis in human sexuality.
2. Become familiar with all aspects of a chosen program, including the
materials and resources which are used. Parent programs and take-
home materials for parents and children are important ways in which
parents and educators need to collaborate with one another.
3. Be attentive to the progress of their children in the program and
actively communicate with their children as well as with teachers.
4. Be involved in the evaluation process after the program is complete.
III. PRINCIPALS and CATECHETICAL LEADERS:
A. General Qualities:
Principals and catechetical leaders have an important role in sexuality education.
They should emphasize the beauty of the gift of sexuality and see it as life-
enriching. They function in partnership with parents and the entire faith
community. They assist and complete the work of parents, furnishing children
and adolescents with a realization of sexuality as a value and task of the whole
person created male and female in the image of God. (EGHL, #69, FC, #32).
Principals and catechetical leaders need to be:
1. Faith-filled: committed to living out in their own lives the Church’s
teachings on sexuality.
2. Prayerful: participate weekly in worship and the sacramental life of
3. Well-informed of the teachings of the Church.
4. Committed to transmitting the teachings of the Church and the
rationale for such teachings in a positive way.
5. Supportive of parents/primary caretakers as the first and foremost
educators of their children.
B. Primary Roles:
The principal or catechetical leader is to:
1. Provide leadership in facilitating the development, implementation
and evaluation of programs in sexuality education.
2. Be informed of the Church documents concerning sexuality education.
3. Collaborate closely with the Pastor/Pastoral Leader, parents/ primary
caretakers, parish/school councils and teachers/ catechists at each step
of the process.
4. Undertake the selection and training of teachers/catechists with the
collaborative help of the Pastor/Pastoral Leader.
5. Assist teachers/catechists in the integration of Catholic sexual values
and provide appropriate training and support for teachers/catechists
in the development, planning and implementation of programs in
IV. TEACHERS and CATECHISTS:
A. General Qualities:
Teachers/catechists who provide education in sexuality are working
hand-in-hand with and supporting parents/primary caretakers in their
responsibilities to provide sexuality education.
It is important that teachers/catechists:
1. Have an exact and complete vision of the meaning and value of sexuality and
a peaceful integration of this within themselves (EGHL, #79).
2. Understand and appreciate the Church’s teachings on human sexuality
and live them out in their lives.
3. Articulate and present the Church’s teachings clearly.
4. Be personally mature, integrated and responsible in their own
sexuality. (EGHL, #79)
B. Primary Roles:
Teachers/catechists are to:
1. Articulate the Church teachings in a positive way, sensitive to the ages
and psychological/moral development stages of the individual
2. Know not only the complete and accurate biological information, but
also the moral, psychological, and spiritual elements of human
3. Be sensitive to the pressures and tensions experienced by young people in
4. Communicate with parents, making every effort to create a bond of
trust with them, so as to present a unified, coherent view to the
5. Be sensitive to the varying family configurations and situations of the
students, as well as the multicultural dimensions operative in their
6. Participate in training which is provided concerning education in
7. Assist in the planning, implementation, and evaluation of sexuality
V. PASTORS/PASTORAL LEADERS:
A. General Qualities:
1. To be knowledgeable of the Church’s documents and teachings on
sexuality and to be living these out in their personal lives.
2. To serve as resource persons.
3. To support the principals, catechetical leaders, parents, teachers, and
all involved with the sexuality program.
4. To integrate the topic of sexuality into various kinds of education
programs; e.g., marriage, singles or single again.
5. To foster youth, young adult and adult support groups where issues
around love and sexuality may be discussed in ways that encourage
appreciation for Church teachings and growth in the personal lives of
B. Primary Role:
The primary role of the Pastor/Pastoral Leader is to oversee the catechesis
in human sexuality (EGHL, #57).
He/She is an essential partner in the planning process for a program in
human sexuality; therefore, he/she needs to be consulted and involved in
each step of the planning, implementation and evaluation of the program.
1. The selection of a program and resources, and the formulating of the
methodology of the catechesis (EGHL, #57).
2. The selection and preparation of personnel who will be responsible for
catechesis (EGHL, #57).
VI. PARISH COMMUNITY:
A. General Qualities:
Parishes help to facilitate growth and understanding in the area of human
sexuality and to assist families by endeavoring to create an atmosphere of
openness, understanding, and sensitivity to the needs of people in today’s
society. Through its worship life, through efforts to build community,
through the ways in which both men and women are involved in the
activities and decision-making of the parish, and through the way the
parish shares and proclaims the richness and depth of the meaning of
human sexuality, the parish is constantly catechizing about this important
topic. (Excerpted from “Catechesis for Human Sexuality,” Archdiocese of
Baltimore, 320 Cathedral Street, Baltimore, MD 21201-4491. Reprinted
B. Primary Roles:
Parish groups are called to:
1. Articulate the Church teachings in a positive way, sensitive to the ages and
psychological/moral development stages of the individual learners.
2. Know not only the necessary biological information, but also the
moral, psychological and spiritual elements of human sexuality as
3. Illustrate the postive values of sexuality, intregrating them with those
of virginity and marriage, in the light of the Mystery of Christ and of
the Church. (EGHL, #56)
4. To help integrate the topic of sexuality into various kinds of education
programs; e.g., marriage, singles or single again.
5. To help foster youth, young adult and adult support groups where
issues around love and sexuality may be discussed in ways that
encourage appreciation for Church teachings and growth in the
personal lives of the participants.
PROCESS FOR BEGINNING A HUMAN SEXUALITY PROGRAM
I. CATHOLIC SCHOOL PROGRAM: WHERE TO BEGIN?
A. ROLE OF THE PRINCIPAL
a. Knowledge of the Church’s teachings on human sexuality.
b. Ability to articulate the reasons for introducing a sexuality
1) The Church calls Catholic School educators to assist parents in
the education of their children in human sexuality. (To Teach as
Jesus Did, #52 and #56; Sharing the Light of Faith, pp. 114-115;
cf., Educational Guidance in Human Love, #54 and #69)
2) Because our philosophy of education reflects a wholistic
approach to teaching, we are involved in the development of
the total human person. (See “Philosophy of Education” for
Diocese of Toledo.) This includes sexuality education.
3) The Second Vatican Council valued education in sexuality as
clearly within the context of the Church’s responsibility. “The
Declaration on Christian Education,” states:
Since parents have conferred life on their children, they
have a most solemn obligation to educate their offspring.
Hence, parents must be acknowledged as the first and
foremost educators of their children. . . .
It is particularly in the Christian family . . . that from their
earliest years children should be taught, according to the
faith received in baptism, to have a knowledge of God, to
worship him, and to love their neighbor. Here, too, they
gain their first experience of wholesome human
companionship and of the Church. . . .
While belonging primarily to the family, the task of
imparting education requires the help of society as a
whole. In addition, therefore, to the rights of parents and
of others to whom parents entrust a share in the work of
education, certain rights and duties belong to the civil
society. . . .
Finally, the office of educating belongs by a unique title
to the Church . . . because she has the responsibility of
announcing the way of salvation to all [people], of
communicating the life of Christ to those who believe,
and of assisting them with ceaseless concern so that they
may grow into the fullness of that same life. (GE, #3)
c.Knowledge of the sexuality program, stages of development, and
how the program relates to other curricular areas.
1) Education in sexuality is a developmental process and should be
offered according to the maturity level of the child throughout the
years; therefore, consideration should be given to implementing a
comprehensive K-8 or 9-12 program.
2) While sexuality education covers many curricular areas such as
science and health, in the elementary school, it is best to present
the course as part of the Religion program. Care should be
taken, however, to carry over and coordinate aspects of the
sexuality program with other subjects as well, such as health
3) It is important that the principal is convinced of the need to
begin a comprehensive sexuality program.
2. Preliminary Steps To Begin a Sexuality Program.
The Principal or Catechetical Leader needs to:
a. Find out what efforts are already being made by teachers,
Catechetical Leader, parish, etc. (e.g., in Religion, science, health,
or physical education)
1) Pastor/Pastoral Leader
• Keep the Pastor/Pastoral Leader informed.
• Seek his/her assistance with each step.
• Meet with him/her before presenting plans to the school
council to be sure assured of his/her support.
2) School Council
• Seek the advice and support of the School Council.
• Hold a meeting to discuss beginning a sexuality program.
• Ask the president to facilitate the meeting.
• Prior to the meeting, send the School Council members a
copy of the introductory chapters of this booklet or of any
other article which addresses the topic.
• Follow the article with some discussion questions, such as
What role do you think the school should play in human
Do you think most parents do an adequate job of teaching
sexuality to their children?
As a parent, what would help you in teaching your children
• Try to determine the receptivity level of the council to a
sexuality program and design it according to what parents
want and need.
• Teachers are key to this undertaking because they are the
ones to implement the program; therefore, some preliminary
groundwork with them is critical.
• Give the faculty some reading material on sexuality
education and plan to discuss it at a faculty meeting.
• Assure the faculty that they will not be asked to do
something for which they are not trained.
• Give the teachers a brief survey:
Are you willing to support this program and teach it?
What are your fears?
What assistance will you need? (e.g., guest speaker,
textbook, video, etc.)
4) Parents (Primary Caregivers)
Once the support of pastor/pastoral leader, school council and
staff is assured, plan an all-school parent meeting to present to
the parents the plans to begin a sexuality program.
• Be sure the pastor can attend.
• Invite the school council to attend.
• Ask the council president to facilitate the meeting.
• Have the entire faculty present.
• Prepare an agenda similar to this:
Pastor/Pastoral Leader speaks on how the Church supports
the school’s role in sexuality education; Scripture,
Guest speaker addresses how school and parents are
partners in the formation of the children, conscience
formation, morality, challenges of society, etc.; invites
Principal speaks on hopes and plans:
A committee will be formed for the selection of a text.
(will include parents, teachers, parish staff members and
Teachers will be trained.
Parents will be involved.
3. Laying the Groundwork:
1) Form a committee for the selection of resources to be used (See
section on resources for text listing). The committee should
Teachers from primary, intermediate and upper grades or four
levels of high school.
Parents, both proponents and opponents, male and female,
whose children represent different ages, sexes, and cultural
Parish staff members.
2) Distribute background information to this committee.
Suggestions might include:
(1) Section on how children develop (from this booklet).
(2) Excerpts from Church statements (from this booklet).
NOTE: It may be very helpful to purchase consumable books. In this way, the students can
have them at home and refer to them at other times of the year. Parents will be able to use
them whenever they want.
While the content of the program is very important, teachers need
first to be given the opportunity for a frank and open discussion on
all aspects of sexuality to assure that their moral stance and what
they will teach the students are in compliance with our Catholic
tradition. If no one from your parish community can facilitate such a
discussion, the Family Life/Respect Life Office will assist with this.
Invite all the teachers because education in human sexuality, like
justice, overlaps most content areas.
After this opportunity for discussion, teachers need to be inserviced
on the use of the particular textbook series which has been adopted.
Sometimes the book companies have excellent consultants who can
go through the content and methodology.
Each year all new teachers will need to be in-serviced.
c. Parent/Primary Caregiver Orientation
Once a text has been adopted, parents should be invited to an orientation
session. Also present at this meeting should be the pastor/pastoral leader,
principal and teachers. This meeting should include:
• Outlining the scope and sequence of the program.
• Telling the parents exactly what will be taught regarding the
biological aspects of sexuality.
• Surfacing all questions.
• Having parents meet with the individual teachers to see what will
be taught at their child(ren)’s grade levels.
NOTE: Be prepared to be asked if this will be a mandated program.
Since this is part of the regular curriculum, it is expected that children
would participate. The decision to exempt a child should be done in
dialogue with pastor, principal, and parents/primary caregiver.
Parents are the first and foremost educators of their children. (GE, #3)
The Church presumes that parents know and understand their
children better than anyone else. For this reason, it is crucial that
parents take very seriously the role they have to play in the area of
sexuality education in school and parish programs.
It may be that some parents, after having studied their role as spelled
out in this manual, will still feel hesitant or uncomfortable about their
children participating in classes in sexuality after discussion with
school/parish leaders. In such cases, they maintain the right to
remove their children from such classes. They must be willing,
however, to work with the school (or parish) to make reasonable
accommodations for their children during this class time.
Parents who choose to have their children in a program outside the
school do not have the right to do that in an indiscriminate or
disruptive fashion. Care must always be taken that the children will
be caused as little embarrassment as possible.
The National Catechetical Directory gives the following advice:
[Parents] should not let their feelings express themselves in
indiscriminate opposition to all classroom instruction in sexuality, for
that would not be consistent with the position of the Second Vatican
Council and the Bishops of the United States. Furthermore, to the
extent such opposition might impede or disrupt responsible efforts
along these lines, it would violate the rights of other, no less
conscientious, parents who desire such instruction for their children.
4. Implementing the Program:
As a leader in the parish and school community, the principal will, in a
large way, determine the tone of the program. Being prayerful,
positive, and secure in the knowledge that this is a crucial area of
Catholic education will help ensure a good program.
It may also be helpful to appoint one or more teachers to help
coordinate this program.
After the sexuality program has been in place for a year, it is important to
survey the following as to the kind of experience they have had:
Parents (Sample survey is included).
Teachers/Catechists (Sample survey is included).
6. Beginning again next year.
It is important to meet with parents/primary caregivers and
teachers/catechists each year to review the human sexuality program
with the intention of maintaining it as it is or of improving it. It is
especially important that new parents and new teachers be oriented to
the school’s sexuality program.
PROCESS FOR CONTINUING THE PROGRAM IN HUMAN
A. Parents and Teachers
After the program has been in place for a year, it is important to survey the
parents and teachers as to the kinds of experiences they had. (Cf. forms for this
purpose.) This evaluation process is crucial to the success of the program.
B. Pastor/Pastoral Leader, Pastoral Staff, and School Council
It is important to continually check with the pastor/pastoral leader, the
pastoral staff, and the School Council as to any concerns they may have
about the program.
C. As time goes on and parents and teachers come to expect that the
Human Sexuality Program will be taught as part of their child(ren)’s
curriculum, the program, textbooks, and resources should be reviewed
and evaluated about every five years as is done in any other subject area.
II. YEARLY PARENT/PRIMARY CAREGIVER MEETINGS
A. It is important to have a parent meeting each year before the start of the
program in order to review the material that will be taught. A general
overview will clarify the program and answer any questions that the parents
may have about the subject matter being taught. They need to clearly
understand that the material taught is consistent with our Catholic beliefs.
The meeting should include:
1. An overview of Church documents and the Church’s teaching as
well as support of the program (given by the pastor/pastoral leader)
2. An outline of the program (given by the principal)
3. An explanation of the biological aspects covered at each grade level
4. A time for questions and answers
5. A time for meeting with the respective teachers of their child(ren)’s
If a parent has already attended a meeting and is properly apprised of
the program, attendance need not be mandatory.
Parents who are doctors and nurses could be guest speakers and can
lend insight and support. However, it is important to know their moral
position before they are asked to speak.
B. Meeting with new parents
It is necessary to meet with parents new to the school. They will need an
in-depth look at and explanation of the Human Sexuality Program. The
format for this meeting is listed above. It is recommended that this
meeting be mandatory.
III. TEACHER INSERVICE
Teacher inservice is a critical part of this program. Every teacher new to the Diocese of Toledo
should attend an inservice on the Human Sexuality Program within his/her school. It is
important that the new teachers are not only orientated to the program, but also understand
that education in human sexuality can overlap into all academic areas.
STAGES OF DEVELOPMENT: CHILDREN AND YOUTH
The following is a compilation of characteristics and needs which pertain to
children and young people in their respective stages of human growth and
development because each child matures at his/her own pace. By being
aware of these factors, those entrusted with education in human sexuality are
better enabled to present, teach and guide children and young people in their
personal and social development.
Undergirding and cutting across all grade levels and chronological ages are
these needs which all children and young people have:
1. to be recognized as a person.
2. to be treated with dignity.
3. to receive an attitude of openness from parents and others when
questioning and dialoguing about matters of human sexuality.
4. to be given accurate information at every stage of development.
5. to have good role models.
In addition, parents and educators should:
1. be aware that children are impacted by stress.
2. teach children that their behavior has consequences.
II. GRADE LEVELS:
A. Primary Level (Grades K-2):
(Please note: Many of these needs may be appropriate for all age groups.)
•Characteristics: Early moral development
Strong sense of curiosity
Limited attention span
Eagerness to learn
Recognition and appreciation of differences
` Recognition of the importance of friendship
Tendency to seek out playmates of their own
Influenced strongly by the media.
•Needs: To see the uniqueness of each individual as a
child of God
To be reassured from family/school of
personal goodness and specialness in
being a boy/girl
To develop ability to cope with negative
To learn how feelings can be expressed in
To experience support in the face of failure
To internalize moral values and standards
from parents, teachers/other role models.
B. Intermediate Level (Grades 3-5):
•Characteristics: Physical growth at a steady rate
Onset of puberty for some
Emotional growth at a steady rate
Presence of some stress (peer difficulties,
pressure over grades, competition, need
for approval, sibling rivalry, etc.)
Beginning to process abstract ideas and
Normal curiosity about sex
Peer conformity becoming increasingly more
Influenced strongly by media.
•Needs: To see the uniqueness of each individual as a
child of God
To understand that everyone has a role in
To foster cooperation, interpersonal
To achieve social skills
To view changing emotions as necessary,
normal and controllable
To see the importance of significant adults as
good role models
To be presented with Christian values and to
be enabled to integrate these values into
To be provided with opportunities to relate
to the opposite sex in non-threatening
To understand that sexuality is a normal,
healthy part of an individual’s identity
and is a gift from God.
C. Pre-Adolescent Level (Grades 6-8)
•Characteristics: Accelerated change and growth
Moving toward independence
Importance of peer approval
Experiencing internal confusion
Being comfortable with others of their own
age/sex; yet becoming more comfortable
in groups of both sexes
Peer pressure to engage in sexual
Influenced strongly by media.
•Needs: To be affirmed in their uniqueness
To view their development as natural
To understand that God’s love extends to
their feelings of self-doubt and confusion
To be helped to understand psycho-sexual
To develop skills of ownership, self-control
To be helped to realize/understand that
sexual involvement requires a personal
commitment and fidelity to the other
To be led to an appreciation of living a chaste
To clarify misinformation regarding sexual
D. Adolescent Level (Grades 9-12)
•Characteristics: Dis-association from the world and
experience of childhood, yet without
being ready for full responsibilities of
Rapid physical and emotional change
Intense sexual development
Close linkage of self-identity and sexual
More intimate and selective relationships
May fall in love
Peer groups rigidly defined
Tendency of girls to be more interested in
friendship and personal relationships
Slower development of boys and their
tendency to place greater emphasis on
Believe in their own immortality and
consequently may tend to be reckless in
Influenced strongly by media
Tremendous pressure to be sexually active
Incidence of rebellion against structures and
•Needs: To develop a positive understanding of
To relate to adults who can offer positive
witness of integrated self and sexual
To be guided in recognizing that sexuality is
much more than genital activity
To be provided with an openness in which
listening, questioning and dialogue about
sexuality can take place
To be given accurate information and
instruction regarding physical, emotional,
and moral dimensions of sexuality
To be given adequate sexual catechesis which
addresses controversial issues.