Dawn Eden, the US author and chastity campaigner, relates the story of her lecture tour in the Catholic high schools in Ontario where the girls “competed to wear the shortest skirts” and students defiantly told her that they “loved sex.”
Eden described Holy Cross Catholic Secondary School in Strathroy, as her “toughest crowd” from which some students after the talk wrote threatening and abusive messages on her weblog.
Eden wrote of her shock at encountering the atmosphere in the publicly funded Ontario Catholic school system: “One school where I spoke yesterday, likewise Catholic and state-funded, had a display table on testicular cancer just inside the front door. Now, I realize it’s important for young men to learn about such things-but it was disconcerting to walk into a Catholic school and be greeted with a sign shouting, ‘MY LEFT NUT.’”
Sponsored in part by the London Area Right to Life Association, Eden, who normally addresses audiences of young adults, was giving talks to high schools for the first time. Eden is a former rock music industry journalist and more recently, the author of “The Thrill of the Chaste: Finding Fulfilment While Keeping Your Clothes On”. She gives lectures around the US and participates in panels and discussions on helping young people recapture chastity as a way of life.
She expressed her sympathy for young people under pressure to go along with the crowd. “Seeing the way the Ontario girls competed to wear the shortest skirts reminded me of how the social pressure to conform could be unbearable,” she wrote.
But the real surprise came after the lecture at Holy Cross when students left messages on Eden’s website so abusive that the Religious Life coordinator for the London Ontario school board later apologized.
One student wrote, “You are a SLUT!! You’re not a virgin! Face reality. PS- Just because we wear short skirts does not make us whores! Many of us are still virgins and wear short skirts! ALSO, a lot of us LOVE SEX!!!! So what?! You’re just making us want to have sex more. So just shutup cuz no one cares about your life.”
Another specifically cited the doctrine of cultural relativism to justify her sexual activity. [Note: all grammatical, punctuation and spelling errors were in the original.]
“I’m a catholic and i absolutely love having sex… does it mean im a bad person? No, i think that chastity should be up to the person, I believe in making my own decisions on my lifestyle, based on what i feel is right its called cultural relativism.”
But two notes from the student calling himself “Jay” were most alarming, both threatening violence. “HCC [Holy Cross Catholic] has had GREAT assemblies, you ruined that streak, even the teachers say so, Sorry to be harsh, but you need a good smack in the face.” And, “And I know many girls from HCC who where their skirts short, and i mean short, and their all virgins, you dont know us, lay on your death bed and think about it.”
Eden noted the general absence of a Catholic religious nature at some of the Ontario Catholic high schools she visited. She learned that in the Catholic schools, being state funded, as many as 25 per cent of the student body are non-Catholics. She was also told that of the Catholic students, “only a minority” attend Mass. “As a vice principal told me, they have a (well deserved) reputation for wearing the shortest skirts.”
She also said, however, that despite the well-documented movement in Ontario’s public Catholic schools away from the traditional Catholic devotional practices once normal in Catholic schools, some of the students themselves “had a strong devotional sense that was deeply touching,” and that “surprised” even the school’s staff. Eden’s small supply of wooden cross necklaces and prayer cards were snapped up by the students.
She wrote, “The kids hear about sex all day from their peers who are putting forth the idea that everybody’s doing it-a message that their schools’ staff do not always attempt to dispel.” She described as “exhilarating” that the work of “getting the students to see that not everybody was in fact doing it”.
Eden concludes, “How short were the skirts? Don’t get me started.”
“I can’t say what it’s like at Catholic schools in the States, but the state-funded schools here do not appear to police the uniforms…Honestly, these girls were walking around (and sitting on the floor) in hemlines that would make a Ziegfeld girl blush.”
“It amazed me that the boys in the audience could pay any attention to me at all with the epidermis buffet going on all around them.”
Ontario’s Catholic teachers are all forced to belong to a union that has for many years strongly opposed the Church’s moral teachings. The union intervened in a legal action on behalf of a student that successfully forced his Catholic school to allow him to bring his homosexual lover to the school prom.
The province’s bishops have not taken strong actions to bring the union in line. The main school religion programs, approved by the bishops, have received much criticism for their weak presentation of Catholic teaching and excessive emphasis on “social justice” issues.
Despite these negative factors, some Ontario Catholic schools, thanks to faithful School Boards, teachers, principles and parents, as well as some bishops who have accepted there are serious problems in the schools they must personally address, do manage to give authentic Catholic moral and spiritual formation to their students.