THE youngest senator ever to be elected to Seanad Éireann has revealed that he was once so ashamed of his sexuality that he "prayed for years" to not be gay.
Sinn Féin Senator Fintan Warfield made the admission while voicing his concerns about Catholic style sexual education in some primary schools.
The new curriculum was launched by the Irish Bishops' Conference and describes sex as a sacred "gift from God” to be enacted between a man and a woman.
Marriage is characterised in similar terms as a "sacrament of commitment."
All Catholic schools on the island of Ireland will receive the new, religious sex education materials, dubbed Flourish by church authorities.
The timing of the rollout, over five years since the same-sex marriage referendum delivered a landslide victory in favour of gay marriage, and almost four years since the election of Ireland's first openly gay Taoiseach, could be considered out of step with the bulk of Irish public opinion.
Especially as the program reenforces the Catholic dogma that only "marriage between a man and a woman” is sacred.
It also maintains that "puberty is a gift from God,” adding, "we are perfectly designed by God to procreate with him."
The sex education program reminded Senator Warfield of a tumultuous time in his life when he prayed not to be gay.
He told Kieran Cuddihy on Newstalk’s The Hard Shoulder: “I grew up in a Catholic household and I have been very adjacent to the Catholic Church for all of my childhood.
“When I was about to stop going to mass, I played music with the folk group in the church so I have been adjacent to Catholicism all my life and yes, I did resort to prayer, as I know many LGBT people have, in the hope that this was a phase.
“But it wasn’t a phase and, you know, I think we need to offer our young people more.
“Prayer won’t protect our kids against STIs, against pregnancy, against HIV – so we need to offer a comprehensive but really inclusive education policy in our schools.
“This shouldn’t be an issue and it’s not an issue when it comes to any on the subject like history or maths.”
“Young people want schools to provide comprehensive, relevant, age-appropriate relationships and sexuality education throughout all stages of education,” he said.