Promoting Accurate and Objective Sexuality Education
Interights Bulletin, A Review of the International Centre for the Legal Protection of Human Rights, 2007, Volume 15, No. 4
56 Pages Posted: 15 Apr 2012
Date Written: 2007
Comprehensive sexual and reproductive health education for young people is alarmingly inadequate or completely lacking in many countries across the globe. Where information is provided, it is often of the most elementary sort – a few hours of lecture on the biological aspects of reproduction as part of a broader subject, for example – or presented by teachers with no specialised training in the subject matter or effective teaching methodologies. Even more worrying are biased and ideologically-driven sexuality education programmes, which are proliferating in classrooms in every region of the world, often in contexts where youth have no good alternative sources of information in schools or else- where. Generally speaking, these types of programmes – abstinence-only teaching among them – are characterised by several problematic features, including medically inaccurate and biased information about contraception, abortion and AIDS; messages that discourage the use of condoms, use fear and shame to motivate abstinence outside of marriage, and promote gender stereotypes as fact. Research shows that such programmes are not only largely ineffective in delaying sexual activity, but are in fact harmful in undermining the use of contraception and safe practices by young people when they do become sexually active. Beyond the health-related harmful consequences of such programmes, abstinence-only-until- marriage programmes in particular blatantly discriminate by their terms against gay and lesbian youth, who cannot legally marry in most countries.
Keywords: sexual education, abstinence-only education, reproductive health
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