In 2010, the Diocese of Lancaster invited Jason and Crystalina Evert to speak to Year 10 & 11 pupils at every Catholic secondary school in Lancashire. This was part of the Sex and Relationships Education which is on the statutory curriculum for secondary aged pupils in England and Wales. As an example of the kind of thing Jason Evert tells kids:
- A guy who has these attractions may not want them, or even know where they’re coming from. Perhaps they stem from an unhealthy relationship with his father, an inability to relate to other guys, or even sexual abuse.
- Even if a person does not believe in God, he cannot argue with nature. For example, the life expectancy of homosexual men is half that of heterosexual men.
- Furthermore, imagine what would happen if all people with same-sex attractions were placed in their own country. It would be empty in a century, because bodies of the same gender are not made to receive each other.
- Before long, part of the blade is exposed and the wolf’s tongue is nicked. But since its tongue has been numbed by the icy blood, the animal is unaware of the damage that’s been caused. As more goat’s blood is cleaned off the blade, it is replaced with the warmer blood of the wolf. In an excited frenzy at the taste of fresh blood, the animal licks more ravenously, is cut again and again, and continues to bleed until it becomes faint. Within hours, the wolf will die of blood loss.
This is standard evangelical-Christian teaching about gay men in the US. Jim Burroway describes how this affects the parents of lesbian and gay children here:
With that, a very painful groan rose from the audience. This was probably the second-most effective line delivered that day (I’ll get to the most effective one in just a little bit). I looked around and saw heads shaking, couples looking at each other, and a general sense of horror filled the room. My cheeks flushed as I wondered how many of those groans came from fathers and mothers themselves who made up a sizeable chunk of the audience.
This claim is regularly used by the Christian Right in the US. It is often sourced back to an article published by the Journal of Epidemiology in 1997 “Modelling the impact of HIV disease on mortality in gay and bisexual men”. The kindest thing one can say about this claim is that it is way out of date.
Jason Evert doesn’t appear to be aware that bisexuals exist. But never mind that. What if an imaginary country were populated entirely by lesbians and gay men, who had never experienced any heterosexual sexual attraction in their lives? Not in a century but in one generation – every child would be a wanted child. Why would anyone – least of all a Catholic – think this would be a bad thing?
But it’s not just homophobia that’s the problem with this booklet:
If you’re wondering WTF? I can’t say I blame you. In this erroneous piece of natural history, the knife is pornography, the blood is animal lust, and the wolf is a teenage boy. Yes, it doesn’t make sense to me either.
What’s really interesting is that the Snopes.com community sourced this story of how to kill a wolf to a 1978 novel by John Norman, Beasts of Gor [Update, 20th February: But see caveat below and discussions in comments.]
Jason Evert says:
In the case of porn, the most troubling effects usually come later in life, when you actually try to love a woman. Research about people who looked at porn found that they were less likely to be satisfied with their partner’s affection, physical appearance, sexual curiosity, and sexual performance. Some husbands even come to think that they have the right to be aroused by fantasies. They seem to feel that if a wife isn’t flawless, it’s her fault.
John Norman is the author of about 25 books set on “Gor”, or “Counter-Earth”. The general assessment among SF fans is that while the first five or six are standard sword & sorcery stuff, thereafter the series descends into BDSM soft porn. There are some who argue that the Gor series is not pornography, but there’s no denying the sexism:
Women on Gor are slaves. Sure, there are “free women” – but, as you’re reminded over and over again throughout the course of the series, a free woman is just a slave without a collar. And they love it. Only in slavery and in submission do women (both Earth and Gorean) realize their true femininity. Men are real men – they’re beasts, brutes, and warriors, chockfull of honor and honest-to-goodness manhood, not the tepid stuff men from our world try to play off as masculinity. So sometimes? Those mysterious forces have a not-so-mysterious motivation: profit. Gorean slavers often raid Earth in order to kidnap its women, who are known for their “hot bellies” (ease of arousal) and overall craving for REAL MEN.
Already, it’s a mixture for problematically awesome times. There’s the many proud, bratty women (all women in this series are proud and bratty, until forcibly reminded to be otherwise) who realize they in fact love being topped and collared. There’s the men who are eager to top and collar them. There’s the static gender roles. There’s the constant denigration of the feminist movement, the insistence that equal rights squashes women’s sexuality, the idea that lesbian/assertive women just haven’t met the right man, and on and on. Underlying all this is the insistence that these sexualized gender roles are a biological necessity.
Jason Evert, apparently, is a Gor series fan. [Update, 20th Feb: Actually, the weight of evidence - see comments - suggests that by the time Evert heard this knife-licking story it had mutated from John Norman's Gor to anonymised glurge. Second update, 21st Feb the story has now been sourced to Chapter XIV of an 1881 account of the US expedition in the Arctic to find the Franklin papers, 1878-1880 - Schwatka's Search] At least, that’s where he’s taking his illustrative examples from, to teach to teenage children at Catholic schools. [21st Feb, again: Jim Dixon found the reference (see comments): I had never heard of Schwatka or Gilder till now. I am thoroughly impressed, though I have to say it does not make the story or anything else about the booklet less repellent.]
I oppose homophobia being taught in school, as every decent person should; no child should sit there in class listening to their teacher or an invited adult explain how that child is inferior or their parents are inferior.
A report released in 2004, Stand Up for Us – Challenging Homophobia in Schools, cites a 2001 study that suggests 85% of lesbian, gay and bisexual men and women experienced homophobic bullying at school.
Another UK study found that more than 50% of LGB men and women who had been bullied at school contemplated self-harm or suicide, while 40% had made at least one attempt to self-harm. A further study found that more than 20% had attempted suicide.
Three years ago Phil Beadle wrote:
These figures stand as testimony to an issue that I’ve witnessed, day-to-day, over the space of many years: British schools are the final bastions of homophobia, which is, and has always been, at epidemic proportions. In schools where racism is unheard of and sexism is petering out, protecting the rights of gay children is perceived as an equality too far. Homophobia, in British schools, is the last acceptable prejudice.
This appalling state of affairs is even worse in faith schools. A Stonewall report says that while 65% of pupils in non-denominational schools have experienced homophobic bullying, this rises to 75% in faith schools. Students experiencing such bullying in faith schools are also far less likely to report it.
That the Diocese of Lancaster thinks that homophobia is such a good thing they need to import American “experts” to have more of it, is appalling in itself.
But in the video (I don’t blame you if you didn’t listen to it) Jason Evert is lecturing on how contraception isn’t necessary because natural family planning is what you need. (2% of sexually-active Catholic women in the US use NFP. All the rest use contraception. The Catholic Church has accepted contraception is not sinful, even if the celibate hierarchy are still catching up.)
In the booklet, which was handed out to schoolchildren at state-funded schools as part of their Sex and Relationships Education, Jason Evert claims
“scientifically speaking, safe sex is a joke”, explains that “the homosexual act is disordered, much like contraceptive sex between heterosexuals. Both acts are directed against God’s natural purpose for sex – babies and bonding.”
Apparently every teenager in a Catholic school in Lancashire got this anti-contraception message.
The number of women having abortions has risen in East Lancashire — with a ‘worrying’ number of young girls undergoing the procedure.
Fourteen abortions were undertaken by girls aged 14 and younger last year across the area.
Coun Ron O’Keeffe, Blackburn with Darwen Council’s health watchdog, said abortion was “a major problem in the borough”, especially in deprived areas.
Post hoc, ergo propter hoc. Inviting a guest speaker to tell a large number of teenagers that contraception is “disordered” and safe sex is “a joke”, does not necessarily imply a connection with a rising abortion rate.
But it is certainly true that a rising incidence of contraceptive use invariably parallels a drop in the abortion rate. Put simply: Preaching chastity to teenagers as a substitute for telling them about safe sex is already proven not to work.
I am disturbed about the homophobia. I am alarmed and amused about the Beasts of Gor being used as a teaching aid. I am appalled that the Diocese of Lancaster considered it more important to impose Catholic doctrine on the children in the state-funded schools their Church runs, than to give them accurate and helpful information about safe sex.
And as for Michael Gove, who argues
The education provisions of the Equality Act 2010 which prohibit discrimination against individuals based on their protected characteristics (including their sexual orientation) do not extend to the content of the curriculum. Any materials used in sex and relationship education lessons, therefore, will not be subject to the discrimination provisions of the act.
Well, he is unfit for purpose as Secretary of State for Education: he should resign.