The Sex Education bill has passed the Dáil despite Fianna Fáil's opposition
Fianna Fáil's education spokesperson told TDs yesterday that the party believed putting the curriculum into law “goes against all precedent.”
A bill based on the importance of updating the sexual education curriculum in Ireland passed the committee stage of the Dáil on Thursday afternoon.
The Provision of Objective Sexual Education Bill, fronted by TDs Paul Murphy, Bríd Smyth and Ruth Coppinger, guarantees the right of students to receive factual and objective relationships and sexuality education regardless of a school's ethos.
It was debated in Cabinet on Wednesday evening and passed the second parliamentary stage on Thursday afternoon.
Should the bill pass, the provisions would remove religious ethos as a consideration for schools when it comes to relationships and sexuality education and set minimum standards for the RSE curriculum, when it is being set by the Minister among others.
As it stands, both Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) and Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) are mandatory for both primary and post-primary students - however, what is taught is largely up to the individual teacher and also there is a legal obligation to stay within the ethos of the school.
According to Education Minister Richard Bruton, certain elements of the RSE curriculum currently being taught in schools are up to 20 years old.
Education spokesperson to Fianna Fáil, Thomas Byrne, announced after the debate that the party would not be supporting the passage of the Sexual Education Bill, to the shock of the bill's stalwart supporters.
Byrne said that this was on the basis that the party supports many of its ideas, but does not want the new curriculum put into law.
However, on Thursday, fewer than 10 TDs claimed a formal division, meaning that the bill could progress to the next stage – the Education and Skills Committee.
It's believed that the bill was passed due to the ongoing pressure placed on politicians by members of their constituencies.
Fianna Fail decide not to press vote due to pressure they were under on opposition to factual objective sex ed, many of their TDs left the chamber as vote called. The #SexEdBill now goes to Education Committee. Let's keep up pressure to get it through. #dubw
— Ruth Coppinger (@RuthCoppingerSP) April 19, 2018
Pressure worked on #SexEdBill! Fianna Fail didn't even stand to insist on a vote so the Bill passed to Committee stage. Well done all.
— Paul Murphy (@paulmurphy_TD) April 19, 2018
Members of Solidarity-People Before Profit, the party that proposed the bill, have welcomed the news, claiming that efforts made by supporters of the bill to contact their local TDs had worked.
JOE spoke to Bríd Smith TD, who expressed her party's joy at Thursday's development.
"The Objective Sex Education Bill brought forward by ourselves Solidarity-PBP Alliance was voted through today. It is great we got through the first hurdle and hopefully there will be no delays in progressing it forward," she said.
The Education Committee will now go on to meet on 1 May and 15 May to discuss the issue, inviting submissions from the general public.