June 22, 2012 – UNESCO’S PROGRAM FOR SEXUALITY EDUCATION IN LIGHT OF A PROPER UNDERSTANDING OF INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS
Over the past few years, several international organizations have advocated a need for sexuality education. From June to December 2009, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization [hereinafter UNESCO] published International Technical Guidance on Sexuality Education: An Evidence Informed Approach for Schools, Teachers, and Health Educators, and International Guidelines on Sexuality Education: an evidence informed approach to effective sex, relationships, and HIV/STI education (collectively, the Guidelines), outlining the implementation for sexuality education programs for primary and secondary schools. UNESCO published these massive documents with the goal of equipping children and young people with the “knowledge, skills and values to make responsible choices about their sexual and social relationships in a world affected by HIV and AIDS.” Unfortunately, this noble goal is quickly abandoned in favor of advocating an approach that is “rights-based, culturally sensitive, respectful of sexual and gender diversity. . .” and encourages teachers and governments to act in the place of the child’s parents in educating children on sexuality. The purpose of this paper is to provide a critical analysis of UNESCO’s two sexuality education guidelines in light of a proper understanding of the rights of parents, family, and children in binding international law, and to demonstrate that UNESCO’s approach is more focused on sexualizing children through social policy, rather than on health. Part One provides a brief history of UNESCO’s two guidelines on sexuality education. Part Two discusses the philosophy of UNESCO’s approach to the topic of sexuality and its appropriateness in education as presented in its two sexuality education guidelines. Part Three summarizes UNESCO’s sexuality education documents and compares how slight differences in the documents demonstrate an intent to expose young people to overtly sexual information. Part Four outlines several additional issues in international law and their relation to the sexualization of children. This analysis gives greater insight into the Guidelines, and reveals that UNESCO’s objective is indoctrination and desensitization of children by overwhelming them with sexual-based information, rather than the promotion of better sexual health.