Jamaica’s Ministry of Education has withdrawn its health and family life curriculum from high schools after references to homosexuality upset some parents.
The controversy surrounded the ‘Sexuality and Sexual Health: Personal Risk and Assessment Checklist’ segment of the third edition of the curriculum geared at grades seven to nine.
It asked students questions including: Have you ever had sexual intercourse? Have you ever had anal sex without a condom? What caused you to be a heterosexual? When and how did you first discover you were heterosexual? If you have never slept with a member of your own sex, is it possible you might be gay if you tried it? Why do heterosexuals seduce others into their lifestyle?
One of the exercises suggests students should close their eyes and imagine themselves in a world where they were the only ones who are heterosexual and that everyone else is homosexual.
The report also suggested teachers ask children which of their body parts gave them the most pleasure and to sing a song about it.
Although it was only a teaching manual, and not something pupils will have read themselves, it still caused a storm on the Caribbean island.
Jamaican newspaper The Gleaner claims one father asked them: ‘Are these people insane? My son just started high school and this is supposed to be his introduction?’
Minister of Education Ronald Thwaites stepped in and ordered the manual should be withdrawn.
He said: ‘There is strong objection to some of the questions on sexual behaviour and the commentary on heterosexuality/ homosexuality,’ the minister said
‘I consider sections of the material inappropriate for any age and certainly for the grade seven and eight students for which it is designed.’
He wants to have it re-written and re-issued but some parents are requesting approval before it goes back into schools.
Ray Howell principal of Edith Dalton James High explained the ministry has a committee that reviews curricula for approval.
He said ‘someone should take responsible for what has happened’.
Howell had previously said the ministry ‘does not endorse or support the teaching of homosexual relationships as the accepted standard of family. We do not teach it and we do not recommend it’.
The controversy appears to have only been stirred up since the document was ‘spotted’ this month as it has already been in teachers’ possession for the last year, having been revised between 2009 and 2011 and distributed to schools last September.