What is comprehensive sexuality education?

Not all sex-ed is created equal. Not everything that is passed off as “sex-ed” would make the cut for being called comprehensive sexuality education. Learning how to put a condom on a banana and calling it a day just doesn’t cut it! Comprehensive sex-ed has specific core principles, goals and teaching methods that go beyond the banana.

UN experts have put together the most updated international document defining the highest standard of sexuality education: the 2018 UNESCO Technical Guidance on Sexuality Education. This is their definition of comprehensive sex-ed:

Comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) is a curriculum-based process of teaching and learning about the cognitive, emotional, physical and social aspects of sexuality. It aims to equip children and young people with knowledge, skills, attitudes and values that will empower them to: realize their health, well-being and dignity; develop respectful social and sexual relationships; consider how their choices affect their own well-being and that of others; and, understand and ensure the protection of their rights throughout their lives.

Worldwide, experts are moving away from “sex-ed” that only focuses on how to avoid negative sexual health outcomes; young people need lessons that give a fuller picture of their sexuality and sexual health.

Updated on 2020-03-27
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