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17 Jun 2024 6:00
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  •   Home > News > International

    Parents call for US chastity speaker Jason Evert's talk at Central Coast all-girls high school to be cancelled

    Parents and students from an all-girls Catholic college on the NSW Central Coast want conservative American author and chastity promoter Jason Evert's planned talk this week cancelled, with a petition overnight amassing 700 signatures.


    Parents at a Catholic school on the NSW Central Coast are outraged that a conservative American author and chastity promoter is scheduled to speak to female students this week.

    An online petition, which has amassed more than 700 signatures overnight, is calling for Jason Evert's speech to students at St Joseph's Catholic College in East Gosford on Wednesday to be cancelled.

    In 2020, several schools in Ireland cancelled planned talks by Mr Evert after concerns were raised about his views on sexuality, women and contraception.

    He promotes chastity among teenagers and has previously described homosexuality as "disordered", although those references have since been removed from his book.

    Kelly Lacey, who has a daughter in year 10 at the all-girls school, said she was "gobsmacked and appalled" at the Catholic Diocese of Broken Bay's decision to organise the talk by Mr Evert.

    "There is no way this man is speaking in front of my daughter," Ms Lacey said.

    "If it means keeping them home from school that day, then that's what we will do.

    "But I would prefer him just to be cancelled and to take a stand against the diocese."

    Ms Lacey has filed a complaint with the diocese.

    Sarah Greenaway, who also has a daughter at St Joseph's, said while Mr Evert was entitled to his views, it was problematic for the diocese to organise these talks given the ongoing discussions about gendered violence and women's rights in Australia.

    "It's deeply problematic, given the climate that we're living in at the moment," she said.

    "And I think it's bordering on irresponsible for the diocese to take our girls down that path."

    A representative for the students at St Joseph's, who did not want to be named, said the session was not appropriate, especially "in light of the recent speech given at a Catholic university in America, where a man said the degrees are useless because women should be housewives".

    "So, this man coming into an all-girls school and giving a talk about chastity, it's almost condescending about the place of women in society," the student said. 

    Controversial views

    Mr Evert founded an "outreach program" called the Chastity Project, which he has used to deliver speeches about relationships, marriage, sex and other topics to young people around the world.

    His views are shared widely on his online platforms, as well as in books and podcasts.

    He has compared men to dogs when talking about the need for women to dress modestly.

    "It's like a dog who finally catches the mailman's truck," he said online.

    "It's more than you want to handle. So, when you get the attention of men who want you for that, what's the end game here?"

    The ABC has contacted Mr Evert for comment.

     

    In a statement, the diocese said Mr Evert's sessions at Central Coast high schools would be delivered in a "non-judgemental and compassionate" way.

    "[He] is a theologian, counsellor, husband and father … who has addressed millions of people across six continents about social issues and personal relationships," a spokesperson for the diocese said.

    "In teaching young people about healthy relationships, Jason empowers students to make good decisions and respect themselves, their peers and their faith."

    However, the spokesperson acknowledged the topics due to be discussed could be highly sensitive and said it would not be compulsory for students to attend the session.

    Parents said they had only been informed that the session would not be compulsory until they raised concerns about it.

    In a letter to St Joseph's parents, principal Carolina Murdoch said the feedback had been passed along to the Director of Schools, who then spoke to Mr Evert.

    "Jason was grateful for the opportunity to receive the feedback and provided assurances that his presentation will be delivered in a very compassionate and charitable manner," the letter stated.

    "[It will be] without judgement and with respect for all."


    ABC




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