The theme of this year’s CSW is the “access and participation of women and girls to education, training, science and technology.” While delegates are busy negotiating resolutions and outcome documents, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and UN organizations campaign for the installation of socially radical curriculums in Africa and America alike.
“Oral sex, masturbation, and orgasms need to be taught in education,” Diane Schneider told the audience at a panel on combating homophobia and transphobia. Schneider, representing the National Education Association (NEA), the largest teachers union in the US, advocated for more “inclusive” sex education in US schools, with curricula based on liberal hetero and homosexual expression. She claimed that the idea of sex education remains an oxymoron if it is abstinence-based, or if students are still able to opt-out.
Comprehensive sex education is “the only way to combat heterosexism and gender conformity,” Schneider proclaimed, “and we must make these issues a part of every middle and high-school student’s agenda.” “Gender identity expression and sexual orientation are a spectrum,” she explained, and said that those opposed to homosexuality “are stuck in a binary box that religion and family create.”
A Belgian panelist at the same event explained how necessary it was to have government support when educating about anti-discrimination issues. He claimed that the “positive, pro-LGBT policies in Belgian schools are a direct consequence of liberal and open-minded legislation in Belgium,” and went on to stress the importance of states in providing relevant materials for students and schoolteachers. He also held up Belgium’s “gender in the blender” programs, which are discussion-based programs for Belgian teachers who want to discuss gender and transgender issues in their courses, as a model for other nations who wished to encourage their teachers to address these topics.
The UN system was also advocating for the sexualization of youth at this year’s CSW. A panel sponsored in part by the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) advocated for “comprehensive sex education” not only as a tool to combat “gender oppression,” but also as the key to achieving all of the Millennium Development Goals. The panelists presented the highly controversial UNESCO guidelines on Sex Education, as well as a new IPPF-sponsored curriculum as the gold standard for comprehensive sex education. Both curriculums promote a liberal approach to sex, approve of masturbation, and expose children to graphic content in their youngest years. The panelists also insisted that these programs be implemented in schools in order to reach as many students as possible, and they also recommended they start as soon as possible, given the fact that many girls in developing countries leave school before the age of sixteen.
Although most of the side events during CSW are not sponsored by governments and attract few delegates, the NGOs who produce the events are UN lobbyists – which means that the agendas on display during this year’s CSW will influence UN policy in near future.