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Archbishop favours sex ed in schools

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Archbishop Georgios has come out in support of sex education in schools saying it is better for children to be informed and in a position to protect themselves in cases of sexual harassment.

He made the statement following a meeting with Education Minister Athena Michaelidou, during which the Archbishop approved the sexual education curriculum.

The head of the Cyprus Church said he was convinced by the minister and the education inspector in charge of the program, that sexual education offered to students will properly inform them over possible risks.

On negative reactions from parent groups, the Archbishop said: “We should not be carried away by extreme voices, whether they come from various circles in Greece or from within Cyprus and leave the children to their ignorance, which makes them vulnerable”.

Minister of Education Michaelidou told reporters that sex education has been taught in schools for 12 years with no change to the content since 2011, and invited those interested to view the course material on the ministry’s website.

“The only change has been its expansion to lyceums and technical schools,” said Michaelidou.

“The purpose of the course is to teach healthy life skills, self-protection from sexual abuse, development of healthy relationships and correct behaviours, and zero tolerance for violence and bullying,” she added.

The issue will be raised at the next session of the Holy Synod which is expected to take an official position.

Archbishop Georgios’ position is expected to be adopted by the Holy Synod despite other church officials, such as Paphos Bishop Tychikos, taking a differing position.

In a circular distributed this month, the Paphos Holy Diocese opposed the inclusion of “holistic sexual education as a compulsory subject in all levels of education in the Republic of Cyprus”.

It was read to churchgoers in the Paphos Diocese, stating, “The course aims to remove the spiritual resistance of our children, soften their moral sensibilities, and demolish the values of our tradition and conscience”.

The Paphos Diocese argued: “The ultimate consequence of this Western-imposed ‘education’ will be that the coming generations would lose the most precious things bequeathed to us by our most ancient and precious Greek Orthodox tradition and preserved with countless bloody sacrifices by our ancestors.”

Trooditissa Monastery, proclaiming to be experts on children’s education, said that they “reject all unprofessionalism, all sloppiness, all falsehood, all cunning expediency, and all unorthodox experimentation in our children.”

“Our children do not need sexual education but Christian education”.

The new law on sex education which came under fire from concerned parent groups was approved last year and despite reservations about its constitutionality, came into effect on 1 September.