Sexuality education is about respect and equality

Comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) goes beyond education about reproduction, risks and disease, also teaching about love and relationships based on mutual respect and equality.  This was the message from the Zentano family from Santiago, Chile, who spoke to UNESCO about their experiences of sexuality education for the Foundation of Life and Love campaign.

Sebastian Zentano told UNESCO that responsible CSE should include messages about respect, and equality. His mother, Maria Valeska Gatica, said she had tried to impart this to her sons from an early age.

“I believe comprehensive sexuality education is a very important component of human development,” she said. “It promotes a world that is more peaceful, happier, more integrated, and more of a human community.”

The Foundation of Life and Love campaign highlights intergenerational stories from families across the world to show why it is so important for young people to learn about health, relationships, gender, sex and sexuality. It also includes interviews from GhanaThailandChina, and the UK.

CSE is based on universal human rights, including the rights of all people to health, education, information equality and non-discrimination. Through CSE, young people are able to recognise their own rights, to respect the rights of others, and help those whose rights are violated. It also respects a young person’s right to a high standard of health, including safe, responsible and respectful sexual choices.

Débora Solis Martinez, Director of the Chilean Association for the Protection of the Family, who was also interviewed for the Foundation of Life and Love campaign, said all young people should have access to quality CSE.

“We do not want young girls getting pregnant, we do not want young people affected by sexually transmitted infections or with HIV, but in order to achieve that, young people need to be able to obtain the information needed to make the right choice,” she said.

“Beyond that, one of the greatest strengths of comprehensive sexuality education is that girls learn from the beginning that the condition of being a woman does not imply a relationship of subordination with man,” she said.