Does you school or system have a comprehensive sexuality Education curriculum?

In this article Saskia De Melker, puts the case for a comprehensive sexuality education course starting with 4 year olds in kindergarten.

You’ll never hear an explicit reference to sex in a kindergarten class.In fact, the term for what’s being taught here is sexuality education rather than sex education. That’s because the goal is bigger than that, says Ineke van der Vlugt, an expert on youth sexual development for Rutgers WPF, the Dutch sexuality research institute behind the curriculum. It’s about having open, honest conversations about love and relationships.

By law, all primary school students in the Netherlands must receive some form of sexuality education. The system allows for flexibility in how it’s taught. But it must address certain core principles — among them, sexual diversity and sexual assertiveness. That means encouraging respect for all sexual preferences and helping students develop skills to protect against sexual coercion, intimidation and abuse. The underlying principle is straightforward: Sexual development is a normal process that all young people experience, and they have the right to frank, trustworthy information on the subject.

“There were societal concerns that sexualization in the media could be having a negative impact on kids,” van der Vlugt said. “We wanted to show that sexuality also has to do with respect, intimacy, and safety.”

Beyond risk prevention

The Dutch approach to sex ed has garnered international attention, largely because the Netherlands boasts some of the best outcomes when it comes to teen sexual health. On average, teens in the Netherlands do not have sex at an earlier age than those in other European countries or in the United States. Researchers found that among 12 to 25 year olds in the Netherlands, most say they had  “wanted and fun” first sexual experiences. By comparison, 66 percent of sexually active American teens surveyed said they wished that they had waited longer to have sex for the first time. When they do have sex, a Rutgers WPF study found that nine out of ten Dutch adolescents used contraceptives the first time, and  World Health Organization data shows that Dutch teens are among the top users of the birth control pill. According to the World Bank, the teen pregnancy rate in the Netherlands is one of the lowest in the world, five times lower than the U.S. Rates of HIV infection and sexually transmitted diseases are also low.

I can’t see that Australia is quite ready for this yet but, given how quickly we have moved our majority view about equal marriage, maybe this is not too far behind.

Now I was one of the 62 people who got ‘same sex married’ in the ACT when, for a very short space of time, this was legal.  It was overridden and our marriage is now invalid.  Even though I felt strongly enough to take this step, my view is that comprehensive sexuality education is even more important, not just for the reasons about sexual health practices outlined above, but because it may reduce the sense of isolation and marginalisation young people who don’t conform to gender typical and or heterosexual norms can experience in our schools.

I have heard it said that equal marriage is the last remaining barrier for LGBTI people but I beg to differ.  Providing a safe, inclusive environment for all children and young people to understand their developing selves: and their sexual and gender identities should also be on our political radar and no legislation is required to achieve this.

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