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Saturday 2 December 2023 Dublin: 2°C

FactFind: QAnon website promoted on anti-SPHE leaflets protesting sex ed in Ireland

Controversy over curriculum changes is being used to push conspiracy theories about child-murdering Satanists

A LEAFLET CLAIMING that “the sexualization of our children has begun”, which argues against sexual education in the Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) curriculum in Irish schools, ends with the recommendation that parents look to a QAnon-supporting conspiracy theory website for more information.

A copy of the leaflet was sent to The Journal by a concerned teacher who said that it had been distributed to parents in her area.

The flyer recommends that parents search for “more info” on sexual education in Irish schools to — a website that pushes numerous wild and disproven conspiracy theories.

“Every single successful cancer treatment has always been suppressed (and the inventors murdered),” the website claims. “Free energy for humanity is being hidden.”

The website also has multiple pages falsely claiming that the Covid-19 pandemic was a hoax and governments were mass-murdering people to keep death rates high; that hydroxychloroquine can cure Covid-19 (repeated clinical trials show that it doesn’t); and that the QAnon family of conspiracy theories is true.

The core QAnon theory is based on a series of cryptic messages left on a fringe internet forum, and claims that Donald Trump is engaging in a secret war against what is described as “Satanic elites” who engage in “ritual child sacrifice”.

Unlike many adherents to QAnon, who became disillusioned with the conspiracy theory, continues to come up with explanations to justify how its predictions haven’t happened, and why the anonymous author of the cryptic messages went silent.

However, other pages on the site, including the one linked to on the leaflet distributed to Irish teachers concern children and sex education.

One article on the website has the misleading headline “‘Every child should have a sexual partner’ says the United Nations”, despite the United Nations never actually saying that.

Throughout the article it includes statements about children and sex in quotation marks, despite not quoting anybody or anything.

The article directly cited on the leaflet distributed in Ireland also runs with a headline featuring a phrase in quotation marks that is an invention of the writer of the website: “‘Schools must equip children to have sexual partners’ – say the UN and WHO.”

There is no evidence of either the UN or WHO saying this.

The article opens with another fake citation: “Little children are sexual beings who must have sexual partners and begin with sex as soon as possible,” it says in quotation marks.

“For this reason, kindergartens and elementary schools must teach children to develop lust and sexual desire, learn masturbation, build same-sex relationships, use online pornography, and learn different sexual techniques such as oral sex”.

The website describes this as a paraphrased summary of the official guidelines issued by the World Health Organization and the United Nations, despite neither organisation releasing remarks to this effect.

When the website does feature actual quotes, they are removed from their original context and change the meaning. For example, one takes a quote from page 16 of a UN guide to sex education.

The UN quote reads: “Comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) is a curriculum-based process of teaching and learning about the cognitive, emotional, physical and social aspects of sexuality. It aims to equip children and young people with knowledge, skills, attitudes and values that will empower them to: realize their health, well-being and dignity; develop respectful social and sexual relationships; consider how their choices affect their own well-being and that of others; and, understand and ensure the protection of their rights throughout their lives.”

However, on the website, the quote is reduced to: “It aims to equip children… to develop sexual relationships”.

The page also repeats the claim, previously debunked by The Journal, that the UN has called for sex between adults and children to be decriminalised. 

Instead, a document written by a group of jurists says that some under-18-year-olds should legally be permitted to have sex  — a stance consistent with the law in Ireland, which says that 17-year-old children can legally consent to sex, as well as most US states, where the age of consent is 16.

A search on TikTok “for” shows that videos promoting the views have accumulated at least 100,000 views. 

The website has more than 40,000 referrals across Facebook and Instagram, according to the Meta-owned social media monitoring tool, Crowdtangle.

There are 3,900 referrals on these platforms for the URL to the page falsely claiming that the UN said children should have sex partners — the same URL that was shared on the Irish anti-SPHE leaflet.

That flyer was also recently shared at an “education evening” held last week at the National Stadium in Dublin to oppose the inclusion of sexual education in the SPHE curriculum. 

Attendees were encouraged to take leaflets with them to warn others about proposed changes to the curriculum, and to form groups with other parents to lobby politicians against it.

However, while the flyer promoting a QAnon site was shared at the event, it was not published by the organisers of the event, Christian Voice Ireland, who instead distributed flyers of their own.

The flyer linking to the QAnon site does not contain any group’s name, logo or branding.

However, The Journal has identified it as being from WakeUpéiRe, a fringe group that had spread baseless conspiracy theories during the Covid-19 pandemic and now focuses on anti-migrant rhetoric.

The Journal’s FactCheck is a signatory to the International Fact-Checking Network’s Code of Principles. You can read it here. For information on how FactCheck works, what the verdicts mean, and how you can take part, check out our Reader’s Guide here. You can read about the team of editors and reporters who work on the factchecks here.