According to the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-FAM), a new report entitled “The Politics of Comprehensive Sexuality Education” looks at the tactics of the “Sex Education Establishment” (SEE), which are powerful international groups that have a financial interest in promoting promiscuity.
Written by a team of experts led by Professor Jokin de Irala, the report points out how groups such as Planned Parenthood, the World Health Organization, the UN Population Fund and USAID are pushing programs that are outright disrespectful of parents and present sexual autonomy as an “entitlement” that “strengthens the individual against intrusions by the family or society.”
“The Sex Education Establishment creates policy guidelines and funds efforts to carry them out, presenting their product as neutral ‘best practices,” writes C-FAM’s Wendy Wright. “But the Establishment’s recommendations fail to distinguish facts from opinion, and its track record is questionable. Terms that appear innocuous, like ‘gender’ and ‘evolving capacity,’ disguise dubious teachings and practices.”
The report lists some of the problems in the programs being promoted by the SEE:
1. The documents of the SEE often mix evidence-based information with ideological information but present the content as being wholly factual and scientific. Any country that does not agree with the contents is considered “moralistic”, “prejudiced”, “biased”, or “unscientific” and thereby dismissed.
2. The SEE uses definitions that seem clear but actually have different interpretations in practice. For instance, terms such as “gender”, “human rights”, “discrimination”, “sexual and reproductive health”, “evolving capacity” and “intimate citizenship” all have different interpretations that are not evidence-based but are debatable. However, instead of allowing the democratic process of debate and dissent, “the SEE uses these terms to pursue a hidden agenda and is therefore reluctant to accept any debate about their meanings,” the report states.
3. In an evidence-based and public health perspective, sexual activity among youth is considered to be a risk factor for adolescents; however, this fact is seldom openly acknowledged in SEE documents.
4. In 2004, a consensus statement to avoid AIDS and STI’s was published by The Lancet and called for the ABC strategy – (A)Abstinence; (B) Be faithful; and (C) use condoms. Abstinence and being mutually faithful were presented as the best way for avoiding risk, with condoms being recommended only for those who choose not to avoid risks with “A” or “B”. However, SEE documents tend to treat “A” and “B” as not being possible and are heavily focused on condom-use.
As opposed to “comprehensive” sex ed programs, abstinence-centered programs are evidence-based, effective, less patronizing to youth and rely on their ability of making good decisions when they are fully informed about the risks associated with certain choices. This is why these programs are the preferred choice of millions of parents, educators and youth around the world.
However, the SEE tends to assume that most minors are sexually active even though the vast majority of youth under the age of 18 are not. This means the needs of the majority of non-sexually-initiated youth are unmet by these programs.
Professor de Irala’s team argues that sex education programs, especially when publicly funded, should empower parents to be the educators, and in any case should not advance an agenda that is incompatible with the values of the communities in which they are implemented.
“A greater effort has to be made to achieve a greater consensus with respect to different issues that are often raised in official documents of the SEE,” the report states.
These include empowering parents and educators to educate children according to the values they want their children to embrace; providing choices in sex ed programs that take into account what parents want their children to be taught; getting input and constructive perspective from parents rather than leaving them out of the process and/or discouraging their feedback.
“The Politics of ‘Comprehensive Sexuality Education'” is published by the International Organizations Research Group, a division of C-FAM, publisher of the Friday Fax, and can be accessed in its entirety here.
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