I’m currently a special education teacher. This coming school year will be my third year teaching in public school. I was formerly a health educator for adults and still have a passion for healthy living.
At times, I want to go back to school and get my general education license to teach health and physical education. I wonder about some of the moral implications, not so much for physical education, but for health. For example, what about teaching about contraception? Would it be a sin if I was merely giving facts, not necessarily promoting it? I do believe in the Church's teaching on the matter. I don't know the entire health curriculum in our state, but I'm sure there would be other morally questionable topics that come up (there is, after all, an opt-out option for students on some portions of the class). Where does the line lie between giving facts about a topic, and actually committing a sin of some kind when discussing said topic?
I'm much more interested in teaching the basics about health. I see such a problem with the state of our nation's health and it often begins as problems in childhood. The childhood obesity epidemic in this country is disturbing, to say the least. However, I know those other topics will inevitably come up, and while I would love to get kids to a healthier state, I don't want to sin while doing it.
No, you cannot teach contraception, abortion, etc.
Before pursuing, I suggest you contact the National Catholic Bioethics and one of the law firms familiar with 1st Ammendment issues-- Thomas More Law Center for example. Ask these questions and know your rights before moving in that direction.
You cannot promote things like contraception or abortion or present them as valid moral options. In principle obviously merely presenting the facts about them or any issue is not intrinsically evil, though it may be extrinsically evil due to the young age of the students.
I think your ability to teach a health class would depend entirely on the curriculum expectations of the district. You will probably run into issues in some districts that expect you to teach abortion as a healthcare option. There are districts and states that do not make this part of their curriculum and there are even districts that still try to promote abstinance for high school kids. However, you might have to be willing to change locations in order to find such a district and you never know when a policy will change, so you can expect to have to deal with some issues.
On the other hand, I would think it was wonderful to have a prolife health teacher. I don’t know if I agree that you automatically can’t do the job, even if you do have to explain birth control and what it does. I would think it would be better for the kids to hear the truth about birth control, that it does have risks, that it doesn’t always work, etc. If you aren’t there, someone else will be, and who knows what they will be saying to the kids.
School health teachers must teach the curriculum imposed upon them by either the school board or the state.
More than two out of three public school districts have a policy mandating sex education. 22 states require schools to teach sex education.
You would not be allowed to teach according to your moral values. You would be imperiling the souls of the children as well as your own.
In my state, sixth graders practice putting prophylactics over bananas during health class. By seventh grade, students “know” masturbation is morally neutral, they know about contraception, and they know that girls can obtain abortions without parental notification or consent. Some health teachers introduce speakers from Planned Parenthood, and then reinforce PP’s messages for the rest of the year.
Is this what you want to do?
Since you are a teacher, would you consider teaching NFP to Catholic women outside of your school hours? (I know this is unrelated, but I thought I’d toss this in your direction anyway).
Ugh, that sounds awful - the bananas. I’d for sure pull my daughter out of that portion of the class!
No, I don’t want to do those things. I know a lot of teachers probably do bring in Planned Parenthood; the health teacher at my last school certainly did and that was for 8th graders. Frankly, it’s scary what those groups teach. I’ve seen paperwork from… I don’t remember if it was Planned Parenthood or a similar group, but they were advising people who were HIV positive that they had a right to privacy and therefore did not have to disclose their status to sexual partners! Ahhh! It’s just crazy how upside down our values as a society are these days.
That’s a thought, about the NFP classes. Do you know if that requires some sort of certification? I’m also planning to volunteer with our pro-life ministry’s parental education classes. And I used to be a childbirth educator, so I’d be happy to give those classes free to the women who are pregnant.
Thanks for your thoughts/suggestions!
And thanks to everyone else for their input! I think I may just go for the PE certification and slip in some nutrition education.
It’s funny you bring up this point; I just had this discussion the other day. The Church’s teachings, when followed, would actually prevent many more cases of HIV than condoms ever will. The Church teaches that there is to be no premarital sex, drug use, or infidelity within a marriage, for example. If people followed these teachings, HIV transmission would go down significantly as these ways are how it is mainly spread. Yes, of course, some people get the infection by no fault of their own (blood transfusions, being born to an infected mother, etc.), but many people contract HIV due to their own lifestyle choices.
I would add also this quote: "Edward C. Green, director of the AIDS Prevention Research Project at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies, said that research into the spread of AIDS actually supports the position of the Catholic Church and the pope.
“The Pope is correct … the best evidence we have supports the Pope’s comments,” Green said, according to National Review Online christianpost.com/news/harvard-aids-expert-supports-pope-s-contraception-comments-37602/
And even the CDC states that the best protection against STDs, including HIV, is to abstain or remain in a mutually monogamous relationship. Now where have I heard that advice before?
Quote: “The most reliable way to avoid infection is to not have sex (i.e., anal, vaginal or oral). … Being in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner is one of the most reliable ways to avoid STDs.” Reference: cdc.gov/std/prevention/default.htm
Also, let me ask you something. If you knew someone was HIV positive, knew for certain, would you REALLY trust a condom to protect you from getting this infection? That’s something you’d have to answer for yourself, but I know I wouldn’t. Even if it’s a spouse, the Catholic Church allows a dispensation from the marital obligation at that point. And me personally, if I truly loved someone, and wasn’t just using them for my own benefit, I would NEVER knowingly risk giving them some infection I had.
Quote: “There is no obligation if there is a danger of the infection of disease.”
Finally, I’d just like to point out that all the distribution of condoms throughout the world has not stopped the spread of HIV. All the non-Catholic countries that are supposedly using condoms do not have lower infection rates than the Catholic countries. Check out this link, catholicdefense.blogspot.com/2011/09/what-impact-does-catholic-teaching-have.html though admittedly it’s a blog post, do your own research on that one.
Alright, that’s it. Thanks for the comment - forces me to do more research! :blessyou:
I was just wondering if it was a health class you were teaching why would morality come into it? Obviously I understand the issues with contraception and abortion etc but from what I remember about my health classes at school, it was facts based. Basically we were told what options were available but there was no ‘recommending’. We were told abortions/contraception/adoption were available for example but not that they were morally right or whether or not the teacher agreed with them. Morality was saved for Religious Ed - the issues around sex, abortion, euthanasia were always discussed in that class.
I’m concerned that this would be a sin of scandal.
Quote: “Note Paul’s words in First Corinthians: “Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak” (1 Cor. 8:9).” Reference: columbiaseminary.edu/coffeetalk/060.html
In other words, we’re not even supposed to give the appearance that we’re sinning. Could I, with middle school students in particular, simply present facts, and not given the impression that I’m in any way condoning the use of things such as contraception? I’m starting to be doubtful about that, but perhaps I’m wrong. I’m still waiting to hear back from the National Catholic Bioethics Center and of course, I welcome your thoughts and comments here on the forums as well.