Report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to education, A/65/162, 23 July 2010
D. The right to sexual education: its relationship to other rights and the need for a gender and diversity perspective
23. In order to be comprehensive, sexual education must pay special attention to diversity, since everyone has the right to deal with his or her own sexuality without being discriminated against on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity. Sexual education is a basic tool for ending discrimination against persons of diverse sexual orientations. A very important contribution to thinking in this area was made by the 2006 Yogyakarta Principles on the application of international human rights law in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity. The Special Rapporteur fully endorses the precepts of Principle 16, referring specifically to the right to education.
II. THE RIGHT TO COMPREHENSIVE SEXUAL EDUCATION IN INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS LAW
C. Other international standards and initiatives of relevance to the human right to comprehensive sexual education
39. The European Committee of Social Rights set important standards on the right to sexual education in a landmark decision. The Committee decided that States parties to the European Social Charter were required to provide sexual education to young people on a scientific and non-discriminatory basis without censoring, withholding or intentionally misrepresenting information, for example as regards contraception. The Committee recommended that such education should be provided throughout the entire period of schooling and stated that education in sexual and reproductive health should be designed to develop the capacity of children and young people to understand their sexuality in its biological and cultural dimensions, which would enable them to take responsible decisions with regard to sexual and reproductive health behaviour. In its decision, the Committee expressed the view that States were required to ensure that sexual education programmes did not reinforce stereotypes or perpetuate prejudices regarding sexual orientation.
III. SITUATION OF THE RIGHTS TO COMPREHENSIVE SEXUAL EDUCATION FROM THE VIEWPOINT OF STATE RESPONSIBILITY
B. Analysis by perspective
65. In the case of Latin America and the Caribbean, gender issues are stated to be important at all levels. However, the regional average shows that countries are still not dealing with all aspects of sexual inequality in official programmes. Moreover, the question of discrimination based on sexual orientation or preference is practically omitted from school curricula in the region. Only Uruguay reports that it is included in all programmes, while Colombia and Argentina report that it is addressed in most programmes.
66. The male perspective has already been recognized for some years as an important dimension of gender analysis, and an area of action to promote gender equality. It should be borne in mind that patriarchy affects everyone by normalizing and stereotyping roles, thereby imposing needs and ways of being and feeling. But, like any social construct, it can be changed. This important and difficult task must be taken up by all men and women for reasons of gender solidarity and must therefore be tackled explicitly in education.
67. The importance of the sexual diversity approach, which is linked to the gender perspective, should be emphasized. Regrettably, few sexual education programmes and curricula include this approach. The aforementioned Yogyakarta Principles are a fundamental tool for inclusion of the diversity perspective in the public policies that have to be taken into account in education.
Link to full text of the report: Report-SR Right to Education-2010-eng