DIANA Roberts, in another daily, made a noble attempt to bring some balance to the HFLE (health and family life education) debate by appealing to our sense of "values". I, therefore, can no longer resist entering the fray.
Despite her gracious and well-reasoned points, I take issue with Diana, the editors, anonymous defending contributors, and other commentators who have all overlooked one glaring point. This oversight, as Miss Roberts alludes, may be the result of choosing to debate the issue based on sexual orientation and covert or overt agendas which, consequently, make this HFLE issue more complex than it is. But it is not a complex matter.
There are laws that govern how I should physically relate to children under 16 years of age in this country. Therefore both policy and praxis must be guided by and be responsive to these laws, no matter the "values", orientation or agenda of policy writers or practitioners.
If the law says that an education practitioner cannot engage a child under 16 in sexual activity, then an education policy writer should not write a document or book that guides the practitioner to engage children under 16 in sexual discussions which refer to, or encourage sexual practice. Any such document or text would therefore be inappropriate for the under-16 age group, and in contravention of the law.
Any education policy writer or practitioner, Jamaican or international, who cannot see the simplicity of this, is not worth their salt any more than those who would write a calculus guide for Kindergarten children, or encourage adding alcohol to the Kindergarten nutrition programme.
Writers and supporters of the current HFLE revision document would argue that suggested questions that aim to get admission of participation in unprotected sex from the under-16 child is a necessary attempt to get evidence of sexual activity that could help policy writers and practitioners as they do all they can to stem the spread of HIV/AIDS.
I would wholeheartedly support such a line of reasoning, even in Kindergarten, if there is the added motive to arrest any adult who has had sex with that under-16 child. And in the event that during the guided discussion, the child answers: "Yes, I have had sexual intercourse (anal or vaginal) without a condom", then the law would not be "a shackle" (to quote a famous Jamaican politician) and the guided discussions would be transformational and contribute to making our homes, communities and schools more secure, cohesive and just. This would be a step in the right direction towards making our nation the place of choice to live, work, raise families, and do business as articulated by the Vision 2030 Development Plan.
Director — Gideon Educational Centre
Kildare, Buff Bay