A high school in Melbourne has come under scrutiny for forcing year nine students to rip a certain page from a sex education workbook.
St Francis Xavier College in Berwick told students they couldn’t leave the school hall until they had each ripped the page from their books, Fairfax Media reported on Tuesday.
According to the report, the double-sided page included questions about virginity, sexual preferences and contraception.
“What age do you think is suitable for someone to become sexually active? Provide reasons for your response,” read one question.
“Do you believe in sex before marriage? Why or why not?” asked another.
It is believed a number of students refused to rip out the page.
Principal Vincent Feeney told Fairfax Media that the students were asked to remove the content because it referred to issues that should be dealt with in religious education class.
He said the questions relating to losing one’s virgnity – and not those to do with homosexuality – needed to be discussed in the context of Catholicism.
“Young people do become sexually active in our society before marriage,” he said.
“But we have an obligation to talk about relationships in terms of our values context, which is a Catholic context. We mediate this within an understanding about where young people are. If we had our time again we would do things differently.”
On its website, St Francis Xavier College says it acknowledged “Australia’s democratic values; the principles of freedom of religion, of speech and of association, equal rights for all, the values of openness and tolerance, the rule of the law and respect for elected government”.
A number of people in the community said the move was discriminatory to the students who may not be heterosexual, but Mr Feeney said the school was inclusive and allowed same sex couples to attend formals together.
The incident comes after a month of aggressive debate over the federal government’s Safe Schools Program, which aims to educate children about homosexuality to curb bullying.