The newspaper Syre wrote in its editorial “Warning for campaign against sex education in schools” about our commitment. [1] We have been in contact with Syre’s editorial staff several times, but they have chosen not to receive our response. Strange, we think. Should young children really be exposed to something that is seen by the adult world as so controversial that you do not even dare to debate it? Here is our response to Syre’s editorial:

We take Syre’s criticism of our commitment to making school being a safe place for all children as an invitation to debate on this important topic. Few people know about the sexualization of children by authorities, so a public discussion is really about time.

Syre warns of us, but the reader’s concern is directed in the wrong direction. We know that children are not equipped to bear the weight of adult sexuality. Early and inappropriate sexualization affects thoughts, feelings, actions and has led to sexual and other abuse and to broken relationships.

Giving children a healthy foundation as to relationships and sexuality doesn’t have to be more complicated than letting children know that you as a parent always make time for them no matter what questions or concerns they might have.

Comprehensive and holistic sexuality education is the term used when children are seen as sexual beings who should be encouraged to explore their sexuality from birth. These ideas are described in detail in the standard for sex education that the World Health Organization (WHO) together with a Swedish researcher developed in 2010. It describes how 0–4-year-old children should be encouraged to masturbate and to play doctor, to explore gender identities and learn how to withhold or give consent to sexual activity. [2]

Syre says that we fantasize about teachers teaching masturbation to preschoolers. But far from fantasy, despite the protests of parents, it is a reality in Spain.

In 2019, the educational program “Coeduca ́t” was launched for kindergarten children, including the activity proposal “sensacions” where the children learn to masturbate. The practical exercises were motivated by “exploring masturbation in childhood is a normalized fact in order to practise pleasure and gain self-knowledge.” [3]

The programme’s guidelines, which refer to the WHO standard, contain detailed instructions for preschool staff.

“Play soothing music and ask them to lie down and relax. Those who want to can get up and grab an object and go to caress or give a massage to another child in the group. Explain to them that pleasant and desirable sensations can also be achieved with your own body. Those who want to can explore their ability by repeating the activity individually.” [4]

The National Agency for Education disputes the WHO’s influence, but that is not credible when they themselves refer to WHO’s material and standard several times in various texts on the website. In their support material for special needs compulsory school, they recommend, with reference to the WHO standard, that sex education begins before the age of four. It is about preparing the individual for sexual relations, the National Agency for Education explains later in the text, again with a reference to the WHO. [5]

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs clarifies that “UNESCO’s and UNAIDS’ Technical Guidelines on Sexuality Education” (2009) and “WHO Europe’s Standards for Sexuality Education” (2010) provide suggestions on what the teaching can contain and identify what a comprehensive or holistic sexuality education can be. The Swedish curricula also have a clear perspective of this kind. [6]

During the United Nations´ (UN) Population Conference (CPD56) in April this year, the European Union (EU), represented by the Swedish delegation and other Western countries, announced that they would not accept a final document that did not contain a reference to sex education. This prompted dozens of delegates to express “grave concern and disappointment.” [7]

Pakistan’s delegate accused Western countries of holding education policies hostage until all countries submitted to their sexual agenda. She recommended that Western countries be content to implement extreme sex education within their own borders without imposing the same on other countries. [8]

Contrary to what Syre claims, we believe that schools must consider that the children’s families are different. Sweden is a melting pot of families with different religions, cultures and values. When the sexualization of the National Agency for Education collides head-on with parents’ ethical and moral convictions, children are caught in between and are harmed.

Wouldn’t everyone involved, both children and adults, have felt so much better if the National Agency for Education had stuck to what we expect of them? To help our children gain the basic skills they need to succeed in future professional and everyday life.

Martin Lantz, Kennedi Samuels, Aida Reva, Tina L Hedenquist, Lorena König, Maria Ekdotter, Marianne Liljeholt, Nina Kollind, Anna Håkansson for UsTogether

Sources

  1. Warning for campaign against sex education in schools, Syre, 2023-05-04, https://tidningensyre.se/2023/4-maj-2023/varning-for-kampanj-mot-sexualkunskap-i-skolan/
  2. Standards for Sexuality Education in Europe, WHO & BZgA, 2010, https://www.bzga-whocc.de/fileadmin/user_upload/BZgA_Standards_English.pdf
  3. Masturbation workshop for kindergarten children stopped in Spain, We together, https://vi-tillsammans.nu/fakta-sv/typ-sv/artikel-sv/onaniworkshop-for-dagisbarn-stoppad-i-spanien/
  4. Coeduca ́t Guidelines for Emotional and Sex Education Programme for Early Childhood Education, Catalonia Regional Government, 2020, https://salutsexual.sidastudi.org/resources/inmagic-img/DD76413.pdf
  5. Sex and relationship education in special-needs compulsory and upper secondary schools, Swedish National Agency for Education, 2021, https://www.skolverket.se/publikationsserier/ovrigt-material/2021/sex–och-samlevnadsundervisning-i-grund–och-gymnasiesarskolan
  6. From  population issues to SRHR—Sweden’s global engagement in sexual and reproductive health and rights, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, 2013, https://cdn.openaid.se/app/uploads/2021/03/08160448/Fran-befolkningsfragor-till-SRHR-Sveriges-globala-engagemang-i-sexuell-och-reproduktiv-halsa-och-rattigheter.pdf
  7. Setback for UN sexualization agenda, Us Together, https://vi-tillsammans.nu/fakta-sv/typ-sv/artikel-sv/bakslag-for-fns-sexualiseringsagenda/
  8. Traditional Countries Stop Biden Administration Sexual Agenda for Children, Lisa Correnti och Stefano Gennarini för C-Fam, 2023, https://c-fam.org/friday_fax/traditional-countries-stop-biden-administration-sexual-agenda-for-children/
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