Teaching sex education could become a criminal offence in Poland with up to two years imprisonment under a draft law put forward by anti-paedophile campaigners.
The bill seeks to criminalise “anybody who promotes sexual behaviour in minors aged under 15 or facilitates their involvement in such behaviour.” While supporters of the bill say it will not lead to the end of sex education in Polish schools, opponents argue that the wording is so broad that anyone talking about issues like sexual development and contraception could face prosecution. Education rights activists say that while sex education was made compulsory in Polish schools last year, it consists of material that is irrelevant or overtly religious, and schools frequently ignore the mandate.
Health experts in Thailand are calling for schools to teach sex education in order to curb the increasing rate of teen pregnancies and protect against sexually transmitted diseases.
Schools avoid teaching about sex out of fear that it will promote sexual behaviour in children. What’s more, there also appears to be a lack of political will in advancing the issue, as sexuality is a sensitive topic that permeates ethics, culture and politics, according to Caspar Peek, representative of the Thailand office of the UN Population Fund.
Health activists in the United Kingdom are pushing to make comprehensive sex and relationships education (SRE) mandatory in schools, amid concerns that the existing curriculum is not broad or inclusive enough. Last year, the Sex Education Forum said classes currently place too much emphasis on biological aspects rather than sexual health. But advocates agree that SRE should be more comprehensive and teach children topics like healthy relationships and how to prevent sexually transmitted diseases, as well as how to protect against abuse and exploitation. At present, state-run secondary schools must offer SRE, but the thousands of so-called free schools and academies are not required to do so. The organisation Brook says that SRE should also include information about consent, gender identities, gender roles and be inclusive of all sexualities. Specifically in Scotland, where there is currently no requirement for schools to teach SRE, the organisation Sexpression:UK has urged the Scottish Parliament to include information on sexual assault and domestic violence in the current curriculum.
Finally, a recent review of Australia’s national curriculum says “The school setting, on the assumption that the curriculum is balanced and objective in dealing with what are sensitive and often controversial issues, offers one of the few neutral places for this to occur.” It noted the “lack of [alternative] forums and spaces where young people can discuss issues, including sexuality.’’