No Gaelic translation for Catholic sex education in Western Isles

Sex education resources which have been written by the Catholic Church and commended by council leaders in the Western Isles won’t be translated into Gaelic for pupils, it has emerged.

New sex education materials produced for the Scottish Government have been opposed by some on the Western Isles. PIC: Stephen Branley/
New sex education materials produced for the Scottish Government have been opposed by some on the Western Isles. PIC: Stephen Branley/

It comes amid controvesy on the islands over the content of sex education lessons for pupils.

Concerns were raised by church figures and some parents that new materials produced on behalf of the Scottish Government for the teaching of Relationships, Sexual Health and Parenthood (RSHP) were not age appropriate or took into consideration moral and religious beliefs in the Outer Hebrides.

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Particular unease was expressed over lessons for older pupils which aim to highlight issues surrounding pornography.

In response, members of Western Isles Council recently voted to commend resources produced by the Scottish Catholic Education Service, which for primary pupils couches sex as part of God’s Loving Plan – with marriage the ultimate expression of love between man and woman.

There are no Catholic schools in the Western Isles although a high number of Catholic pupils attend non-denominational schools in the Uists.

Now, despite the commendation of the Catholic materials by the council, it has been confirmed that they won’t be translated into Gaelic.

Around a third of all pupils in the Western Isles are in Gaelic Medium Education with it recently announced that, from August, all new P1 children will enrol in GME unless their parents request otherwise.

NHS Western Isles said it was working only to translate the new materials.

A spokeswoman said: "With this resource translated we feel there is adequate provision for Gaelic resources to deliver relationships, sexual health and parenthood education.”

Rev Hugh M. Stewart, Church of Scotland minister of Lochs-in-Bernera and Uig earlier told the BBC Alba Eòrpa current affairs programme that the Catholic education material, which he supports, should be translated into Gaelic on a point of “equality”.

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Rev Stewart said last night: "To ensure equality and diversity of educational provision for children receiving their Gaelic Medium Education in the Western Isles the Presbytery of Lewis believes that a culturally sensitive Gaelic RSHP resource added to the suite of resources available for the teaching of RSHP would be beneficial.”

Headteachers will retain control over which materials are used in classrooms, with a variety of resources available to them, with parents to help inform decisions in coming weeks.

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