Geneva, November 18, 2019—November 20th marks the United Nations Universal Children’s Day and the fifth anniversary of the International SexEd Day favouring Sexuality Education from childhood as recommended by the experts of several research reports of international institutions, including UNESCO and the WHO European Office.
“Education emphasizing sexuality and pleasure from childhood is a human right and an absolute necessity to protect young girls and boys from discrimination and abuse, and so that they can learn to respect themselves and others,” said Clemence Linard, M.A.Ed, sexologist and spokesperson for SexEd Day. “Yet, despite the recommendations based on scientific research, institutions such as UNESCO and many countries weaken each time there is religious interference triggered by sex education,” continued the spokeswoman.
“No religious pressure or regressive politics should influence science and research, and this is especially true for education and sexuality. ”
Clemence Linard reminds us that in 2009, UNESCO censored one of its reports on sex education, namely the part that includes an explanation on masturbation from 5 years of age following pressure from the Christian lobby.
“An international institution such as UNESCO must be secular and impervious to any form of religious pressure,” she said. “The director general of this institution, however, seems to have special ties with the representative of the Catholic Church she recently met, while according to the official agenda this is not the case for other religious leaders,” questioned the spokesperson.
This passage, censored by UNESCO, has still not been republished in the updated version of the 2018 report, even though the WHO European Office has published it, going even further, particularly advocating this explanation from childhood.
“Moreover, politico-religious interference is prevalent in many countries when it comes to sex education,” added Clemence Linard. “We currently have significant examples in Poland, Quebec, Ghana and South Africa.”
She goes on to explain that in Poland, a law is being ratified to ban and sentence to jail time anyone, including education and health professionals, who would talk about sex education. “This is an extremely serious situation. Poland is one of the last strongholds of Christianity in Europe and the threatening force against secular and atheist currents, for which the ruling party is now supporting,” expressed the SexEd Day coordinator in Poland.
Clemence Linard also states that Quebec students can be removed from Sex Ed classes for religious reasons, and that in Africa, religious pressures are strong, particularly in Ghana, a pioneering country in terms of applying Sex Ed, and in South Africa.
“The law of silence, taboos and stigma about Sex Ed have led to the AIDS epidemic in the world and are causing great emotional suffering for adolescents, as well as adults, who cannot live what they want with fulfillment because religious leaders, some whose institutions and political powers are accomplices, believe that it is bad. Ignoring scientific data, they have been selling outdated and inaccurate ideas for too long. They are responsible for the unnecessary suffering of millions of people,” the spokesperson added. “The guiding principles of scientific reports are major steps forward and must be applied without censorship to ensure that young girls and boys are informed and protected from childhood through an age-appropriate educational approach,” she concluded.
The Raelian Movement launched SexEd Day in 2015 as part of its international awareness campaign for sex education to denounce censorship — as it relates to religious pressure — and call for the reissuing of UNESCO’s original guiding principles on Sex Ed.