Fr. Joseph Tham, LC, the dean of bioethics at Regina Apostolorum, recently teamed up with Giorgia Brambilla to produce Sexuality, Gender & Education, a collection of talks presented at a symposium in Rome on this topic.
Fr. Joseph was kind enough to respond via email to some questions about this book and the symposium it was based on.
This book’s description says it began with an academic symposium. Could you tell me about the symposium?
Fr. Joseph: In March 2015, we hosted an academic symposium “Sapere per Educare” (Knowledge for Education). Most of the participants were pro-life and pro-family organizations from Italy, as a law was being discussed in the parliament. Key speakers were the authors of the book’s chapters. It had over 500 participants, including teachers, educators, priests, religious sisters, and parents. You can find more details in the book’s preface.
You and your co-editor, Giorgia Brambilla, are both professors of bioethics at Regina Apostolorum. How does a book like this relate to your work?
I was the school dean when the symposium was held. This topic is related to bioethics, as it touches on the questions of human sexuality, anthropology and morality. I even helped translate it into English.
What problems regarding gender do you hope to address in this book?
There is a need to clarify the status of the science, both medical and psychological, about the gender issues. Some of them are complicated, relating to the causes of different manifestations, regarding the nature vs. nurture debate. Others regard the Christian understanding of human sexuality based on philosophical anthropology, Theology of the Body, and Christian Revelation. How to strike the balance of loving each individual and yet calling a sinful act by its name. Many confusions exist today regarding these questions, which we try to address in this book.
How are those issues coming up in education?
Without a solid scientific basis, there is a push in some parts of the education field to normalize certain attractions and behaviors. Some people term this the “gender ideology,” meaning that the theories are still unproven and yet are already taught as if they were so. This may have tremendous legal and societal consequences to our children and the future generation. Any changes will need a lot more prudence, and it is not right to enroll our kids in some kind of social experiment.
What responses to these problems did people offer at the symposium, and in the book, on how to educate young people better?
The preface gives a good summary. Some key points are:
- Understanding the family from the legal and socio-cultural perspectives within the context of diminished roles of fathers and mothers in the family
- Best practices and achievable proposals dedicated to the affective education of youths.
- How to balance autonomy and creativity in today’s educational approaches to help youth grow into mature adults.
- How to reestablish the links between ethics, virtues, and happiness, which implies an emphasis on duty, moral living, and character formation.
- How to present role models for children to grow up in happy families founded on love, respect and trust.
- How gender-sensitive education can be detrimental to child development, cause identity confusion, and create difficulties in relations between the sexes in the future.
I see the book is on Amazon — is there any other wayto get it? Who might be interested in reading your book?
I think it would be good for those working in education or bioethics, or those interested in those two topics. It is readable completely on Google books. Also, I am giving out the Kindle ebook to anyone who requests it. Send request to firstname.lastname@example.org. It is also on various platforms:
Thank you, Fr Joseph and best of luck in your work in bioethics.