Sponsors of the annual General Assembly resolution on the “Rights of the Child” did not include “comprehensive sexuality education” in the draft resolution that is being considered for adoption, resulting in a kind of ceasefire on one of the most heated UN battles on social issues.
European and World Health Organization standards for comprehensive sexuality education prescribe teaching children under 4 years old about “early childhood masturbation” and promote social acceptance of homosexuality and transgenderism throughout primary school.
The controversial programming that set off a firestorm in the UN first found its way into a UN resolution in 2012 within the Economic and Social Council. Since then, the General Assembly, which gives final approval to all UN policy, has been locked in an irreconcilable debate on its use.
Last year the resolution on the Rights of the Child was adopted by a vote for the first time after its sponsors from Europe and Latin America insisted on including comprehensive sexuality education despite reservations from African delegations. Almost the entirety of the African Group abstained as a result.
This year moderate delegations among the sponsors sought to avoid the same outcome. They kept out the offensive terminology, even though it was included in early drafts of the resolution in September.
The new terminology is meant to displace longstanding UN language on “age-appropriate sex education,” that has been a staple of UN policy for more than two decades.
During discussions on a resolution about Maternal Health where comprehensive sexuality education was again kept out and the classic terminology retained, the delegations of Iceland, Australia, Argentina, Colombia, Liechtenstein, New Zealand and Mexico called this approach “unnecessarily restrictive.”
The Africans for their part repeated that they are not opposed to “sex education” but simply wanted to ensure “strict respect for age appropriateness and cultural context.” They went even further.
In a rare case where backroom threats of withholding aid are denounced on the floor of a General Assembly meeting, a Senegalese delegate speaking on behalf of the group said it would be “regrettable and unjust” if delegations who help African nations with aid to improve maternal health withheld their assistance because of a disagreement about comprehensive sexuality education.
While the Africans may have staved off the comprehensive sexuality education programming once more, sexual rights advocates opened a new avenue for their agenda through UN anti-bullying programming for children everywhere in the world.
The same delegations pushing comprehensive sexuality education succeeded in getting the General Assembly to approve the first-ever UN system-wide anti-bullying campaign, without making it a secret that one of their principal goals is to promote social acceptance of homosexuality among children.
European and Latin American delegations complained that the resolution on bullying did not refer to “sexual orientation and gender identity” explicitly.
But even if homosexuality and transgenderism are not recognized explicitly as categories of bullying in UN policy, as a recent $300,000 UNESCO report on bullying on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity funded by the Netherlands shows how money speaks louder than resolutions.