World’s Top Sex Ed Promoter Promises Radical Social Change
WASHINGTON, D.C., December 6 (C-Fam) A U.S.-based organization with a long history of promoting controversial curricula for children recently rebranded itself, declaring its mission to promote radical social change through sex education.
The Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S. (SIECUS) adopted the tagline “Sex Education for Social Change” on November 12th. SIECUS president Christine Harley described this change as “working toward a world where all people can experience and enjoy sexual and reproductive freedom as they define it for themselves.”
SIECUS was founded 55 years ago by the Kinsey Institute, which is named for notorious sexologist Alfred Kinsey. His research involved the sexual abuse of minors. SEICUS was led by a Planned Parenthood medical director and aspired to be “the national voice for sex education,” promoting its materials as sources of “medically accurate” information for schools and families. In addition to its work at the federal and state level in the U.S., SIECUS controversially partnered with UN educational agency UNESCO to create guidelines for sex education internationally.
Parents and educators complained that the guidelines called for children to be taught from birth about such things as masturbation and “diverse” sexual relationships.
The fight against so-called “comprehensive sexuality education” remains heated, both in UN negotiations and in capitals around the world.
SIECUS’ rebranding makes explicit what was an undercurrent in the debates about sex education: the future of the “culture wars” both nationally and internationally depends on how the next generation is raised and educated. “So many of the battles we are fighting […] could be a lot less strenuous if more people received a quality sex education,” said SIECUS board chair Kristine Kippins, who specifically referred to the abortion debate. She added that comprehensive sex education gives students a chance to “unlearn stigma, misinformation, and baseless opinions.”
Opinions will be prominently featured in SIECUS materials post-rebranding, with an emphasis on promoting activism, not just information.
“Sex education can be a vehicle for queer liberation,” Harley said on a recent podcast interview. “We really have to talk about the critical role that sex education can play in normalizing human sexuality.”
Harley opined that if comprehensive sexuality education were universal, “society would be completely transformed.”
Not everyone welcomes the prospect of the transformation she envisions. The phrase “comprehensive sexuality education” faces strong opposition in UN negotiations, including from the United States. Grassroots efforts to inform citizens about the harms of such curricula have led to campaigns by parents, teachers, and religious leaders in many countries, including Zambia and South Africa.
Notably absent from SIECUS’ rebranding announcement is any mention of parents, despite the fact that one of the UN’s founding documents, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, states that “parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.”
It remains to be seen whether families in the U.S. and around the world are ready to offer “enthusiastic consent”—a favorite topic of the rebranded SIECUS—to the kind of societal transformation they seek to provide.