Comprehensive sexuality education in Croatia – Overview and the context
Youth aged 14-19 are receiving, on a daily basis, dozens of confusing, conflict and, sometimes, wrong information about their sexuality and gender. Research papers and reports are showing that the integration of comprehensive sexuality education inside the school curriculum makes a significant difference in children in youth’s lives, regarding decisions about their body, life, developing positive attitudes about themselves and people that surround them. 1 Some countries have already introduced some education on proposed topics, but at the same time, those teachings are often not comprehensive and are abstinence-only programs. Sexuality education, in the meantime, became the controversy of the contemporary society, is often discussed in the media, political spheres and religion.
The right to comprehensive sexuality education is integrated into internationally recognized agreements that are urging the states parties to guarantee the comprehensive protection of health, well-being, and dignity of each citizen. The core document on human rights, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights 2 in its Article 26, paragraph 2 says: “Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms…”, meaning, every state is under an obligation to provide the above said to every young person living in the state.
The aim of this publication is to emphasize the importance of implementation of the comprehensive sexuality education in schools in the Republic of Croatia. While keeping in mind the deep division in the society that accompanies this topic, but also the rise of the conservative forces that are trying to promote personal and religious ideas, we have to open up the debate about the problem. It is essential to provide education that will help the youth to make a responsible decision, but as well build the society of peace and tolerance. Croatia is still fighting religious, cultural and historical dogmas that are very active in stopping the youths right to comprehensive sexuality education and that are trying to implement deficient programs that are not based on facts and figures, but on religious grounds.
According to the results of our research (done as part of this project), about 43% of the students would like to have a possibility of getting information about sexuality-related topics through extracurricular programs. Furthermore, 80% of the students think the school programs do not cover all the information they would like to know about sexuality-related topics. It is time for the state to take the youth and their needs into account, and to start working on fulfilling their educational needs in order to establish a gender-equal society.
You can find the publication on this link.