In the 2019-2020 school year, the Ministry of Education of Catalonia (autonomous region in north-eastern Spain) launched an educational programme for kindergarteners (3 to 5 years) that included the activity proposal “sensations” in which children learn to masturbate [1]. The controversial content caused quite a stir in Spain.

Happily, a Spanish bar association recently won a legal dispute in the Supreme Court of Catalonia, forcing the authorities to suspend and remove this type of extreme sex education from kindergartens and primary schools in the region [2].

In the guidelines for this programme for emotional sex education, the Ministry of Education justifies the practical exercises by stating that children have “the right to their own body, in relation to who can touch it, where and in what way. Exploring masturbation in childhood is a normalized fact to practice pleasure and gain self-knowledge. [1 p. 50]

The guidelines, which refer to the WHO standard for sexuality education [3], contained 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 wish can explore their ability by repeating the activity individually. [1 p. 50]

The lawyers demanded that the programme be invalidated. It was shown that it violated several fundamental rights. It infringed on the legal protection of children and young people and violated the right of parents to decide for themselves the education of their own children so that it takes place in accordance with their religious or moral convictions. The Supreme Court upheld the lawyers and the authorities were forced to end their sexualization programme [4].

Sources

  1. Coeduca ́t Guidelines for Emotional and Sex Education for Preschools, Catalonia Regional Government, 2020, https://salutsexual.sidastudi.org/resources/inmagic-img/DD76413.pdf
  2. The educational guide that teaches masturbation from the age of 3 reaches the courts of Catalonia, ABC Catalonia, 2022-11-29, https://www.abc.es/espana/cataluna/asociacion-juristas-pide-tsjc-retirada-plan-generalitat-20221129142947-nt.html
  3. Standards for Sexuality Education in Europe, WHO & BZgA, 2010, https://www.bzga-whocc.de/fileadmin/user_upload/BZgA_Standards_English.pdf
  4. Regional government withdraws workshop where 3-year-olds were taught to masturbate, Larazon, 2023-02-09, https://www.larazon.es/cataluna/generalitat-retira-taller-que-ensenaba-masturbarse-ninos-3-anos_2023020963e4c02c54dfc000012205f2.html
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