Need to rant about anti-choice teacher

(27 Posts)

[To be on the safe side I'll say now this may be graphic and/or triggering.]

This happened back in 2005 when I was 14 and knew very little about abortions, or feminism in general, but I've remembered an RE class called 'When does life begin?' and I'm fucking furious to realise the bullshit the teacher told us.

Firstly the class itself was massively insensitive as it was widely known that one of the girls had recently had an abortion (it's possible the teacher didn't know but unlikely, and anyway their could have been other girls who'd kept it quiet).

He described the process of surgical abortion, apparently entirely ignorant of drug-induced abortion, and said he could only find information on the actual procedure on pro-life websites (can't have looked very hard, I found plenty on pro-choice sites).

We were shown a picture of an abortion which, with hindsight, was clearly late-term as there were fully formed limbs visible. There was no explanation that this was very different from a first trimester abortion, or even that these are by far the most common. I don't think there was any point to the picture other than to upset us, he'd already described everything in great detail.

We were told some anecdotes which I won't repeat as they were very unpleasant, which I now realise were impossible. He probably wasn't deliberately lying, but fact-checking was clearly less important than scaremongering. He also told us embryos feel pain by 12 weeks, from what I've read estimates vary hugely but the very minimum is 18 weeks.

When someone asked him "What about 12 year olds who get pregnant?" he said "I don't think 12 year olds should be getting pregnant." Right, that solves that problem then. No mention at all of rape, abusive relationships, threats to the mother's physical or mental health. Oh, except that most women who have abortions will get depression.

He told us several times he didn't want to influence us but he seemed very disappointed when, at the end, most of the class still thought women should have the right to terminate unwanted pregnancies, though he managed to leave all the girls terrified of the idea.

Thanks to anyone who read all of that, I randomly remembered the class today and realised how much we were told didn't tally with what I've learned since, and I hope posters here will understand why it made me so angry!

madwomanintheattic Fri 23-Nov-12 02:35:28

I think the fact it was an RE class might have given you the clue about bias...

Sounds deeply unpleasant but not altogether unforseeable. Might the class have been deliberately out together to put off any other 14yo that might have got the idea that it was easy peasy from their mate?

Bit grim. And quite recent. I doubt he would get away with it in a state school at the mo.

sashh Fri 23-Nov-12 05:55:19

Oh bloody hell, the anti abortion lessons - I went to an RC school then an RC VI Form.

I was told that in America ALL abortion is done via C section. But when they get to the baby they hold its nose for 2 minuites before delivery so it is dead.

Utter tosh.

I've also been shown the pics.

We also had posters around the place with black bags filled with full term babies and were encouraged to buy a badge that shows a baby's feet, suposedly the size at the time of termination.

Bit grim. And quite recent. I doubt he would get away with it in a state school at the mo.

Take your head out of the sand, this is taught every day. Have a look at SPUC, they regularly provide speakers for schools.

www.spuc.org.uk/youth/youthactivity

AbigailAdams Fri 23-Nov-12 07:16:07

He is a misogynist. Plain old simple misogynist. It is disgusting that they put 14 yr olds through that lies. And that poor girl who had to sit through that after having an abortion. That is a form of abuse.

Did you tell your parents? If so, what did they say/do?

CailinDana Fri 23-Nov-12 08:17:39

We had an almost identical talk by our RE teacher at my Catholic school. Difference was there was one extremely outspoken girl who absolutely let rip at her at the end of the lesson. The teacher tried to argue back but this girl was an excellent arguer (she is now a barrister) and the teacher had told so many blatant lies that she didn't have a leg to stand on. In the end the teacher left looking like she was going be sick. The sense of triumph was immense. I developed a severe girl-crush on that girl which persists to this day blush

At one point the girl said "It is absolutely disgusting that you, as a teacher, would stand up in a school and KNOWINGLY tell lies to push your own agenda. You have treated us with total disrespect and I think you should examine why as a woman you are willing to peddle these lies to your fellow women. What happened to you?" The teacher just looked totally ashamed.

God I was in love.

sashh Fri 23-Nov-12 08:38:33

Cailin I'm in love with her too, wish she'd been at my school.

AbigailAdams Fri 23-Nov-12 10:16:54

Wow Cailin that must have been very satisfying! Well done her! Not surprised you had/ve a crush on her. Pretty brave too.

BumbleBee2011 Fri 23-Nov-12 10:26:58

Some of my friends were shown the "silent scream" movie when we would've been 15, this was at a Methodist school (in SE Asia). I'd transferred to another school by then but felt so sickened and violated on their behalf. Quite a few were in shock afterwards, crying their eyes out - I can't believe teachers think they have the right to talk about things like this without parental consent.

Pilgit Fri 23-Nov-12 13:24:37

What a git! We should be giving all the facts. Not scaremongering. Scaremongering only serves to undermine the real potential horror of abortion. A woman should have the right to determine what happens to her own body but this should come from knowing the facts - unadulterated by people's prejudice or hearsay. That kind of teacher is too common and makes me very mad! What happened to compassion?

chipmonkey Fri 23-Nov-12 13:39:18

I remember being shown a pro-life film but no pro-choice equivalent. I remember my friend being very upset about that but not feeling able to voice her opinion.

Oddly enough, three years later, my sister, at a different RC school, was shown both pro-life and pro-choice films.

5madthings Fri 23-Nov-12 13:51:00

bloody hell.if any of my kids get a lesson like that or spuc go to their school.i will have a fit!!

thatcspuc webpage and thet have a bit about 'abortion inducing birth control' there us a link on the side, its being uodated but it mentions the pill etc as causing early abortion?!! ffs.

5madthings Fri 23-Nov-12 13:56:22

oh the spuc fb page is vile!! they are talking about the case in Ireland and praising a bishop for challenging gay marriage... awful.

looking at it any comments questioning them and their beliefs are deleted.

Lottapianos Fri 23-Nov-12 15:00:23

'We also had posters around the place with black bags filled with full term babies and were encouraged to buy a badge that shows a baby's feet, suposedly the size at the time of termination'

Oh yes I remember that badge! I wore it with such pride when I was 14 hmm In my defence, I went to a Catholic school in Ireland and was full of brainwashing from my RE lessons too. I think the very idea of being 'pro choice' would have made my head spin at that age. Look at me now!

MordecaiAndTheRigbys Fri 23-Nov-12 15:14:01

Jesus I went to a catholic school in Ireland, I was taught by nuns and never once did this kind of stuff get taught or shown. I remember we were taught sex ed by a nun who couldn't be more apologetic that she hadn't more experience in the field! She went through the biology of it and addressed the emotional side of it. And at the end she told us to write down any questions we were embarrassed to ask and she would put them all in a hat and answer them. Which she did.

I think the difference is that teacher that you have op had an agenda and that's not right. There is no place for a teacher who comes to school to push their beliefs on others. I'm sorry that was your experience. It must have been terrible to see that at such a young age.

Thank you everyone, I feel vindicated!

Abigail I didn't say anything, it was unpleasant but I had no reason to doubt anything he said. If he were still at the school I'd write, but he moved years ago. Wish we'd had someone in our class like that Cailin she sounds fantastic.

For the record this was a state school with no religious affiliation, we were just supposed to learn about different religions and moral issues, no bigotry involved.

JambalayaWarmMincePie Fri 23-Nov-12 15:38:45

This still happens now. We have speakers in from Life.

The first time I sat through one of their talks, I practically bit through my tongue.

Afterwards I asked the RE Head if she actually realised what parp was being spouted to our naive teenagers.

I'm not allowed in class when Life are in anymore. grin

chipmonkey Fri 23-Nov-12 18:03:19

Lotta, I remember being pro-life as a teenager too. But what does a 14 year old girl know, really? Their experience is limited and their knowledge confined to what they are taught.
IIRC, even the pro-choice video my sister was shown sounded laughable. Apparently the main dialogue was the woman's husband, friends and colleagues all saying "Oh, Sue!" when they found out she'd had a termination.
No one actually ever really challenged the pro-life status quo of the school, I have a feeling that one or two of my teachers might have had something to say about the anti-choice propaganda but they may have feared for their jobs.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Fri 23-Nov-12 18:17:22

Ria, that really wasn't very long ago. Do you know if he still teaches there?

TDOS unfortunately he left before I did, or I'd contact the school.

pinkyredrose Fri 23-Nov-12 22:29:54

I went to an RC school, our 'sex ed' consisted of one day when outside speakers were brought in.

This one woman went through all the avaliable methods of contraception and told us why all of them weren't suitable for us, (inc telling us you can only take the pill for 6 yrs), also told us that the tissue of aborted foetuses was used in the production of soap so when we washed we were washing in dead babies!!!!

We got split into boy/girl groups in the afternoon, the girls were told that sex outside marraige was a sin and anything that happened to you was your own fault, the boys were tought that if they get a girl pregnant then it's not always their fault, it's the girls that make them do it.

This was in 1985.

TeaAndHugs Tue 27-Nov-12 12:24:28

We should do something about SPUC teaching in schools. If anyone finds out about SPUC teaching in a school near them, they should firstly complain to the school, and then write to the local authority to report the inappropriate teaching. Shout loud enough and something will be done. Education for Choice (part of Brook) have done a lot of reporting on this and can give advice on tackling anti-choice extremists intent on brainwashing our kids: efc@efc.org.uk

alexpolismum Tue 27-Nov-12 12:44:41

Good grief, is this sort of thing still going on? I'd hoped it was done and dusted by now. I remember being forced to watch "abortion" scaremongering video years ago when I was an impressionable teenager.

How they get away with it I don't know, it's a wonder we ever managed to legalise abortion in the UK.

On a similar note, someone sent me this link about a girl suffering a heart attack in reaction to her contraceptive. With smug comments about how it shows that women have been wrong all along to take contraceptives, as though it's some kind of punishment. Religion has a lot to answer for.

kirigamirose Thu 13-Dec-12 18:17:08

my dd goes to a catholic school and sounds just like your girl cailin oooh im looking forward to seeing her reaction to any pro-life education (she is a stoic feminist)

FivesGoldNorks Thu 13-Dec-12 18:21:09

"at the end, most of the class still thought women should have the right to terminate unwanted pregnancies,"

Good for you, for failing to fall for this crap

Phineyj Thu 13-Dec-12 18:45:06

I have taught this topic (at two non faith schools) and you'll be glad to know it's presented in a much more balanced way. First we explain the current UK law on abortion, then explain Christian and Muslim views on it (pointing out that not all within in a religion, nor non-believers, hold the same views anyway). There is nothing graphic and I think it is beneficial that the girls learn what the legislation says, why the time limits exist, etc.

However, while I'm sure that RS teachers are supposed to be neutral on all these topics, all I can say it I found it a struggle to put the religious views across neutrally given that I'm a life long atheist and strongly disagree with some of them, particularly when they seem to put the rights of the foetus above those of the woman or potentially endanger her life.

That is NOT a message I want to give to 14 year olds, so I show them a map so they can see the wide variety in laws across the world and tell them the WHO estimate of how many women worldwide die each year because of lack of access to safe abortion and let them draw their own conclusions from that.

Something that really surprised me was that no-one at either school asked me my beliefs or lack of before telling me to teach RS (it was a second subject done purely so I could meet the teacher training requirements regarding ages of students) not did I get a pep talk about staying neutral or what to do if asked directly about my own beliefs (which obviously I did being visibly pregnant during the relevant series of lessons).

I was only glad not to have to teach the unit where I'd have had to stand there explaining why various religions disapprove of IVF including the specific treatment we did!

I think that one of the issues within schools is that because it's compulsory to teach RS to everyone, that's a lot of students to cover so you end up with a mixture of zealots, and conscripts (like me) doing the teaching.

ll31 Sun 16-Dec-12 16:16:24

Just curious Kir'rose why do you send your daughter to a catholic school if you're so against its beliefs? Just wondering. .. surely you'd expect a catholic school to teach catholic views?

sashh Mon 17-Dec-12 01:54:25

I have taught this topic (at two non faith schools) and you'll be glad to know it's presented in a much more balanced way

It might be at non faith schools but it isn't at RC ones.

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