Everybody knows how to raise children, except the people who have them,” wrote the satirist P. J. O'Rourke. Perhaps this is why Catholic parents are wary when activists, almost always childless, come to their child's class to lecture on diversity, sexuality, or any other obsession of the postmodern left. A maxim ought to be written on the frontispiece of schools: If you don't know what to do with your life, don't educate others on what they should do with theirs.
Many parents send their children to Catholic schools because they studied at one themselves and believe that they will provide a thorough religious education and not promote anti-Christian ideological propaganda, particularly gender ideology. Undoubtedly, many do their job well. But Catholic institutions that were once a beacon for Christianity are slowly giving up that educational work and mimicking progressive ideas on sexual, environmental, economic, and diversity issues.
The Spanish journalist and Catholic activist Jaume Vives was recently denounced on Twitter for reporting the case of a three-year-old student at a Jesuit school in Sarrià, Barcelona, who came home one day making “strange comments” about diversity and gender. The parents confronted the school and were told that the children were working on a month-and-a-half-long project on diversity, including sexual diversity. The school management added that this was a nationwide project throughout Spain for all Jesuit school students from the age of three.
In Spain, left-wing politicians and different laws and regulations—European and regional—are trying to force Catholic schools to comply with the postulates of the woke agenda. Most Spanish Catholic schools are charter schools: They are half private, half state-funded. If the government were to withdraw the subsidies from these schools, they would be forced to close.
In some cases, government pressure was not needed: Some Catholic schools have voluntarily conformed to the woke agenda, offering workshops and projects, and dedicating parts of the syllabus to the dissemination of gender politics and LGBT doctrine.
A few months ago, the Colegio Sagrada Familia de los Maristas de Cartagena (Marists of Cartagena’s Holy Family School), in southern Spain, was involved in one of these scandals. Parents complained that the school was indoctrinating their children and teaching them gender ideology. The school management denied these claims, arguing that they merely sought to “dismantle gender stereotypes that determine the feminine idea of ‘enduring and romantic love',” and that the classes were part of a program on equality organized by the city council.
Similarly, in May, nine-year-old children at a Compañía de María (Mary’s Company) school in northern Spain were scheduled to attend a play, a cultural activity organized by the city council. After seeing the play, several children returned home saying that it had bored them, and that it was about “a six-year-old girl with a penis.” The grotesque and indoctrinating show sought to normalize transsexuality in children. After parental protests, the school admitted that no one had checked what the play was about before taking the children.
Likewise, Spanish legislation requires schools—including religious schools—to teach subjects such as “education for citizenship.” The secularist syllabus for this class—moral relativism and gender ideology—could have been written in a French Masonic lodge. Some schools decided to adapt the syllabus to offer a Christian point of view. Others decided to adapt to the times, teaching students sexual diversity and a relativistic worldview that is incompatible with Catholic doctrine.
Spain is not the exception. Other European countries and the United States have had similar cases in Catholic schools. A Jesuit school in Massachusetts was stripped of its Church affiliation by Bishop Robert McManus for displaying BLM and Pride flags. One mother recently told the story of how she saved her young daughter from “her transgender fantasy,” a fantasy that began with talks on sexuality at her Catholic school. In France, the Institution Sévigné de Narbonne became embroiled in a similar controversy when it assigned its nine to eleven-year-old students Bernard Friot’s He or She, the story of a boy who locks himself in the bathroom, puts on makeup and earrings, shaves, and asks himself, “Am I a boy? Am I a girl?” The book concludes that you don't have to choose, that being both at the same time is okay.
What is happening to Catholic schools? The secularization of religious orders has a lot to do with it. In Europe, there are hardly any friars or nuns left to teach in these schools. This is paradoxical, given that culture and education were safeguarded and taught almost exclusively by the European religious since the Middle Ages.
On a hopeful note, it is worth recognizing that there are Catholic organizations in Spain that continue to provide quality Catholic education, such as the schools of the Schoenstatt Apostolic Movement, Opus Dei, the French Dominicaines de Fanjeaux, and the Holy Mary British Catholic School.
“It is quaint that people talk about separating dogma from education. Dogma is actually the only thing that cannot be separated from education. It is education. A teacher who is not dogmatic is simply a teacher who is not teaching,” wrote G. K. Chesterton. Catholic schools would do well to heed these words, to reject the relativism of our time, and to dedicate themselves without reserve to the truth of the Catholic faith.
Itxu Díaz is a Spanish journalist and the author of nine books.
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Image by Photocapy licensed via Creative Commons. Image cropped.