SIR,-Some time ago I joined in a controversy on "Sex Education" in the correspondence columns of ma CATHOLIC HP-RAI n. From some experience I tried to build up a case for the education of young adults on this topic. Since the publication of the Hierarchical statement on " Sex Education " I have had much food for thought on different lines. At first I was inclined to think that the biology of sex taught to people who may or may not have a religious background was useful or even neeeSsary in this age of ours. It struck me that the ordinary parent could not impart sufficient knowledge of sex to young people of marriageable age. It was so easy to ei.onfuse lack of knowledge of the subject with unwillingness to do one's duty in this matter. Hence the apparent necessity for some sort of sex education to young adults. I stress apparent because it seems to be the word which gives justification to those educators who want the introduction af sex education even into our elementary schools. But does this necessity really exist? Or, if it does exist, does it follow (hat teaching the elementary biology of sex (including physiology) either to young or old, will help the people being instructed?
It is too early to say " let us judge from the results," but let us see what this education, as envisaged at present, really is.
It merely means explaining to a class of young people the way in which a few animals reproduce themselves, how they behave during couitship, how they look after their young. etc. The next step is to pass to the human being to see how he reproduces himself. And from all this it is hoped that the members of the class will be able to understand why marriage. the family. children and Society arc so important to us and must be preserved and foetered. A little hygiene may be brought in and the point is stressed that misdemeanours of sex lead to disease.
Previously I have given many " successful " lectures of this type to varied audiences, but never, in my own opinion, and after using all kinds of teaching techniques. have I managed to convince my listeners that there is any true connection between the method of working of an wieners body and its behaviour and the behaviour of human beings. The anatomy and physiology of many animals and man may be similar in all essential respects, but this is because they are built to a common plan and their bodily functions reach similar ends. Both the lecturer and the listener know full well that there is an unbridgeable gap between man and animal, and that the behaviour of the former is not founded on that of the latter in spite of all attempts to show that structure influences behaviour (excluding abnormal cases).
There seems to be no doubt at all that no matter how much knowledge we have of the sex workings of animals, or of the physiology of plain human beings, it does not tell us why marriage, the family and children are such excellent things. It does not tell us what our reactions towards these things should be, or how we should regard them. No, a knowledge of physiology, etc., tells us nothing of fundamental things. Moreover, this comparison of animal and man stops short just at the crucial point. It may indicate to the listeners that reproductive organs are there to facilitate reproduction. This is obvious, But is It ever pointed out that reproduction is the primary aim of the sex process? Logically this should be done. Biologically animals spend much of their lives trying to reproduce themselves-is this ever pointed out? The comparison here of man and animal would lead on to a condemnation of artificial birth control as being biologically wrong. That surely is the logical end of the whole argument. I am quite convinced that most " sex educators " condone birth control rather than condemn it in spite of the biological analogy.
We can conclude that this so-called " sex education " is futile, and is no education at all. Try as I may, after
considerable experience, I find it impossible to come to any other conclu sion. It is futile is :ause the sex affairs of human beices are those of spiritual and rational creatures. Socalled sex education then approaches the matter from the wrong angle, animals arc neither spiritual nor rational.
PHILIP G. FOTHERGILL.
Siit,-The present emphasis on the necessity for sex education for children reminds me of a conversation reported to me between an evacuee girl and her fostermother, in which the girl was describing the " good time " her 14year-old friend was having with the troops in the vicinity.
The fostermother was endeavouring to point out the undesirability of her charge seeking the same dangerous diversions. The girl finally dismissed the discussion and the case of her young school friend with the comment that it would be all right. anyway, " because she hasn't yet developed into a woman."
Thus the practical conclusion drawn by one high' schoolgirl from enlightened sex instruction.
NINA JAM1PSON (Miss). 45, Symonds Road, Preston.