Advancing towards comprehensive sexuality education for all

In a recent report, UNESCO (2021) states that comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) is central to children and young people’s well-being, equipping them with the knowledge and skills they need to make healthy and responsible choices in their lives.

Since research shows that most adolescents lack the knowledge required to make sexual and reproductive health decisions responsibly -leaving them vulnerable to coercion, sexually transmitted infections or unintended pregnancy- (UNFPA, 2021), CSE equips them to not only avoid negative health issues, but also to enjoy positive and healthy sexual and social relationships. Furthermore, it is remarkable the gains to be made from CSE in particular for girls, who carry a disproportionate burden of poor sexual reproductive health and associated outcomes (UNESCO, 2022).

As Plan International (2020) remarks, CSE is a process of transformative learning and therefore, uses a framework of a positive approach to sexuality and healthy sexual development. Traditional sexuality education often lacks attention to wider social change. On the other side, CSE is rights-based and shifts the focus to the transforming structures of power and privilege and develops the skills necessary for children and young people to deal with gender-unequal environments and overcome challenges in order to lead fulfilling sexual and reproductive lives as equal human beings.

In addition, CSE is intrinsically linked with a number of fundamental rights enshrined in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights: right to education (Article 14), equality between men and women (Article 23), rights of the child (Article 24), right to health (Article 35) (European Parliament, 2022).

In this journey towards comprehensive sexuality education, Europe has a long-standing tradition when it comes to including it as a school curriculum subject (European Parliament, 2022). However, the public debate has oftentimes been surrounded by misconceptions, stigma, and prejudice and there are still many steps that we need to take and many aspects that we need to address. This may involve listening to the concerns and experiences of students from all kinds of background, as well as consulting with experts in the field of sexuality education, using a variety of teaching methods and materials that cater to different learning styles and modalities, along with engaging with parents and community members to build support for the program.

With our upcoming project, Parents United, we also embark in this transformational journey, specifically engaging and collaborating with parents of persons with disabilities in order to exchange experiences and good practices in the field of social inclusion and sex education, promoting intergenerational dialogue, strengthening accurate information provision and  creating relational contexts in which to share experiences and attribute meaning, in the belief that sexuality education has the most impact when school-based programmes are complemented with the involvement of parents and teachers, training institutes and youth-friendly services (OHCHR, 2021).

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European Parliament. (2022). Comprehensive sexuality education: why is it important?

OHCHR. (2021). Comprehensive Sexuality Education.

Plan International. (2020). Comprehensive sexuality education topics. What to cover from early childhool –18+.

UNESCO. (2022). The journey towards comprehensive sexuality education. Global status report.

UNFPA. (2021). Comprehensive sexuality education.



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