Catholic Rules On Teaching Homosexuality To Change In Scotland

Catholic school students in Scotland will soon be able to debate homosexuality under new teaching rules put out by the Catholic Education Commission.

The new "Guidelines For Teaching Relationships And Moral Education To Catholic Children in Scotland" will allow teachers to start debates about homosexuality and abortion in classrooms and state that "sexual orientation is not the same for everyone."

Father Joe Chambers, the chairman of the committee that drew up the document, said the changing nature of modern relationships was part of the reason behind the changes.

"We are looking at relationships which are breaking down, looking at situations where people live without marriage," he told the Scotland Daily Record . "Everyone we talk to is highlighting problems in living, like relationship stresses, and we want to help the whole community."

The guide states that homosexual sex is wrong, but it says that homosexual men and women should be treated with compassion.

The guidelines are the first revision of sex education standards in Scottish Catholic schools in nearly thirty years. The changes in the school curriculum were welcomed by pro-homosexual groups.

"It is heartening that there will be discussion and acknowledgement that not everyone is heterosexual," said Tim Hopkins of the Edinburgh-based Equality Network.

But a church spokesman said that the guidelines would keep to the Catholic doctrine that homosexual relationships are wrong.

"Any suggestion that there is a sea change in these guidelines is flawed," the spokesman said. "The church's views on homosexuality are the same as before."

The spokesman suggested that activist groups would be less happy with the proposals if they studied them further.

"Students will be allowed to talk about sexual identity," he said. "But there is no way we condone homosexual practice."

Hopkins acknowledged that he disagreed with the Catholic Church's disapproval of homosexuality, a policy that he called "homophobic."

"Obviously, we think the overall doctrine is wrong," he said. "But although this is the official opinion, we known there is a huge range of opinion within the Catholic Church worldwide."

"A lot of Catholics might disagree with this official doctrine and think that the basis of a good relationship is respect, love and trust rather than the gender of the people involved," Hopkins said.