By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
A new report by the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) is advocating comprehensive sex education for children as young as 10 and accuses Catholics and Muslims of denying youth access to these programs.
The report, entitled “Stand and Deliver,” calls for children ages 10 and older to be given “comprehensive sexuality education” by governments, aid groups and other organizations, and says young people should be seen as “sexual beings.”
It contends that comprehensive sex education is necessary to encourage young people’s “self-esteem, thoughtful decision-making and negotiation skills and it helps them to develop satisfying and pleasurable sexual lives.”
It also says the “power” of comprehensive sexuality education “to challenge traditional gender roles” must not be underestimated.
“Young people have the right to be informed about sexuality and to have access to contraceptives and other services,” Bert Koenders, the Netherlands Minister for Development Cooperation, wrote in the foreword to the report. “These rights are enshrined in various internationally agreed human rights convention and treaties, but – unfortunately – they are still not universally respected.”
The report also wants sex to be “recast” as a source of pleasure and “expression of self.”
“With young people as partners, today’s adult decision-makers have the chance to recast sex and sexuality as a positive force for change and development, as a source of pleasure, an embodiment of human rights and an expression of self,” the report says.
It goes on to accuse both Catholicism and Islam of preventing youth from receiving this kind of sex education. “Fundamentalist and other religious groups — the Catholic Church and madrasas (Islamic Schools) for example — have imposed tremendous barriers that prevent young people, particularly, from obtaining information and services related to sex and reproduction,” the report states. “Currently, many religious teachings deny the pleasurable and positive aspects of sex.”
IPPF criticizes religious teachings on sex, alleging that they are too focused on abstinence until marriage and recommends that they be more “pragmatic” to accommodate young people as “sexual beings.” They should amend their teachings to “find a way of explaining and providing guidance on issues of sex and sexual relationships among young people, which supports rather than denies their experiences and needs.”
Not surprisingly, the report has generated a firestorm of criticism, the most pointed of which came from Ed Mechmann, spokesman for New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan. Mechman accused Planned Parenthood of “trying to teach children sex without values and that sex is a matter of pleasure and done without consequences.”
Both Islam and Catholicism teach sex as being part of a bigger picture, he told FoxNews.com, and accused Planned Parenthood of trying to sever the link between sex and traditional values.
“It is part of an effort to get children to reject traditional values and accept a liberal American-European view,” he said. “In many traditional countries — Catholic and Muslim — it won’t work and should be seen as cultural imperialism.”
Mechmann also pointed out the fact that Planned Parenthood’s report is compromised due to the fact that it has a financial stake in advocating the changes. “The difference between Planned Parenthood and us is that we don’t make money off what we teach and say. They do. They make money off contraceptives and abortions,” he said.
According to the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-FAM.org), sex education has been a hot topic lately at the United Nations with many critics fearing that parental rights to educate their children will be violated.
“Just last year, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) released a set of sexual education guidelines that were met with such staunch resistance from conservatives that the organization was forced to take down the document from its website and review,” C-FAM reports.
”Critics expect more debates over ‘comprehensive sexuality education’ to flare up in the coming months as UN Commission season gets underway.”
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