IPPF condemns the multiple school arsons across the French-speaking Wallonia region in Belgium over the past week, which have been connected to public protests against the compulsory “education in relationships, affective and sexual life” (EVRAS) program. These targeted attacks are evidence of a growing movement opposed to Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) curricula, and the duty of states to support and protect children in their sexual development. IPPF is deeply concerned that a small cadre of those with extremist views are targeting schools with violence, which serve as vital safe spaces for children and young people to become educated, empowered citizens.
In the face of global misinformation campaigns and attempts to silence the organizations and institutions providing high quality comprehensive sexuality education, IPPF affirms that these programs empower children and young people to protect their health and well-being and support them in developing healthy and positive relationships throughout their lives.
Dr. Alvaro Bermejo, IPPF Director General said:
“The violent attacks on schools in Belgium are proof of how anti-rights campaigners are multiplying around the world and fuelling divisions by spreading false or misleading information about existing education curricula. We know from decades of research and our own programmatic experience in this area that comprehensive sexuality education helps children and young people to understand and enjoy their sexuality, take responsibility for their own sexual and reproductive health and rights and respect other people’s. We stand with the educators in Belgium who are delivering on a sex education curriculum that promotes children and young people’s rights.”
Research shows that parents and young people agree that sexuality education should be offered in schools, and that parents are willing to join these programs, particularly as they help their children to navigate relationships and sexuality amid the complex challenges of the digital era. Many governments around the world, including Belgium, are making sexuality education programs a national priority to protect all children and young people from harm.
IPPF stands with the schools and educators delivering this vital education in Belgium and around the world, and we remain committed to providing children and young people with the knowledge to protect and promote their safety, health and wellbeing.
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