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Ideological Divides Have Stalled Global Progress on Sex Education, Op-Ed Argues

Ideological Divides Have Stalled Global Progress on Sex Education, Op-Ed Argues

September 3, 2014 — While "girls' education has expanded steadily around the globe" since a 1994 United Nations convention endorsed equal education access for girls, "sex education has stalled," Jonathan Zimmerman, a history and education professor at New York University, writes in a Washington Post opinion piece.

The 1994 meeting -- the International Conference on Population and Development, in Cairo "envisioned preparing youths to be autonomous sexual beings," Zimmerman explains. The convention also "demanded 'reproductive rights' -- including rights to contraception and information about sex -- for adolescents of both genders," he adds.

However, "most contemporary sex education simply admonishes [adolescents] against sex itself," he argues. According to Zimmerman, the cause of the stalled progress is that "conservatives around the globe have united across borders to block or inhibit sex education."

While the election of President Obama helped make "U.S. foreign policy ... friendlier to sex education and reproductive rights," the "global campaign against sexual information for adolescents continued," Zimmerman writes.

This continued opposition to sex education shows that "globalization does not necessarily mean liberalization," he argues. "[W]e're no closer to a global norm on sex education. We might even be further from it," he concludes (Zimmerman, Washington Post, 8/31).