Schoolchildren ages 9 to 15 are to be given more detailed discussions about masturbation. New topics on the list for 9-year-olds include orgasm and abortion.
It's no surprise that the guidelines feature enthusiastic support of abortion. UNESCO's guidelines assert that teachers should discuss "advocacy to promote the right to and access to safe" abortion for students starting at age 12.
According to UNESCO, students should be taught that "legal abortion performed under sterile conditions by medically trained personnel is safe." Teachers should also discuss "emergency contraception" and how to get "access to safe abortion and post-abortion care."
After the news broke about what was actually in the guidelines, one of the key agencies that funded UNESCO's guidelines, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), asked that its name be removed. It's unclear whether UNFPA is critical of the guidelines, or of their explicit wording, or merely of the bad publicity generated by release of the working draft.
UNFPA's announced goal is "universal access to reproductive health services by 2015." UNFPA supports countries in using population data for policies and programs "to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person is free of HIV-AIDS."
The week after UNFPA pulled its name from the UNESCO guidelines, UNFPA held a conference in Berlin to train 400 activists to advocate for abortion around the world. At the end of the conference, UNFPA issued a statement urging all nations to provide taxpayer-financed abortions, to "eliminate parental ... and age restrictions" for young people to access "the full range of sexual and reproductive health information and services," and to increase funds for nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) advocating abortion and other "reproductive health care services."
Public reaction to the UNESCO sex-ed guidelines caused UNESCO to make several changes before presenting them at the UNESCO meeting in Birmingham, England, in September. However, there was no apology for the explicitness of the sex-ed curriculum -- UNESCO asserted that its guidelines are "evidence-informed and rights-based."
Criticism was not universal. Time Magazine went on the attack against what it called "the knee-jerk outrage of conservative pundits" and reminded Time's readers that the UNESCO guidelines will "undergo sober and thoughtful examination in more open-minded places ... like Ethiopia."
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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