This is a summary of the article “Sex education in schools: A battleground in Latin America” written by Camila Gianella. Full article is available at https://bistandsaktuelt.no/arkiv-kommentarer/2019/seksualundervisning-i-skolene-en-latin-amerikansk-slagmark/
Latin America is the only region in the world where adolescent pregnancies are not decreasing. It is expected that 38 % of Latin American girls will get pregnant before the age of 20. In the last few decades efforts have been made to develop a more comprehensive sex education, focused on preparing youth with the knowledge and skills necessary for healthy sexual lives. Research shows that the traditional focus on abstinence in sex education does not reduce the number of teen pregnancies. However, there is a vast conservative mobilization against the more comprehensive approach to sex education.
According to Gianella, this counter-mobilization has been led by conservative political and religious actors in an attempt to stagnate the empowerment of young women. The counter-mobilization has framed the debates around educational plans and gender-related public policies as a fight against “gender ideology”, arguing that “gender ideology” within sexual education will destroy the family and promote homosexuality in children. In this article Gianella argues that the “fight against gender ideology” is widespread in Latin America and that it aims to discredit broader feminist initiatives towards gender equality.
Political leaders across the region share a discourse highlighting the need to defend the traditional family against internal and external threats by all means. The perceived indoctrination of school children of “gender ideology” is here an important symbolic marker. The argument used is that “gender ideology” within sexual education will destroy the family and promote homosexuality in children. These political leaders also share a religious discourse and alliances with various Christian groups, which openly denies sexual and reproductive rights, as well as the division between the state and the church.
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