As the Foundation has been a long-time supporter of reproductive rights (both domestically and in Latin America), we’re always interested when there’s something new in the world of sex education.
Well, this month, there’s a new set of proposed international sex education guidelines that’s aimed at reducing HIV infections among young people that’s provoked criticism from conservative groups who claim that the program would be “too explicit” for young children and promote access to legal abortion as a right. The draft version of the guidelines is expected to be released this week by The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). They’ve been working on the guidelines for over two years, and have drawn on more than 80 studies of sex education.
Mark Richmond, UNESCO’s global coordinator for HIV and AIDS and the director of the division that coordinates educational priorities said, “In the absence of a vaccine for AIDS, education is the only vaccine we have. Only 40% of young people aged 15 to 24 have accurate knowledge of how the disease is transmitted, even though that age group accounts for 45% of all new cases.
Some conservative criticism has caused some participating and donor agencies to pull back from the project, such as the United Nations Population Fund, which requested that its name be edited out of the published material.
International Planned Parenthood Federation reports that there are at least 111 million new cases of sexually transmitted diseases among people ages 10 to 24; 10% of births are to teenage mothers and up to 4.4 million women 15 to 19 seek abortions annually.
We applaud UNESCO for allowing them to empower young people with knowledge that could save their lives. When the full guidelines become available, I’ll post the link to them on this post as a postscript.