Comprehensive Sexual Education: realities, doubts and fears in Venezuelan society




This July 7th, in Venezuela, with a mobilization towards the Ministry of Education in Caracas and the Educational Zones in the regions, the public’s rejection of the claims of bringing the Comprehensive Sexual Education (ESI) model to schools was confirmed. What the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) states “is part of a complete and indispensable education to which every human being has a right, beyond acquiring knowledge, since it provides knowledge and life skills”.

Walter Obregon //

UNESCO conceives that a quality education not only implies providing children and adolescents with a solid academic training and skills for employment and economic security. It also implies providing them with knowledge and skills for their physical, psychological and emotional development.

“A non-existent or deficient sexual education not only does not respond to the needs and rights of girls, boys and adolescents, but also exposes them to serious risks to their health and lives,” tis stated.

A United Nations (UN) report found that Comprehensive Sexuality Education allows young people to “explore their attitudes and values, and practice decision-making and other life skills to make informed choices about their sexual lives.”

In Venezuela, there are personalities and organizations that maintain their campaigns on ESI. Some are in favor and others are against its application, but all of them demand respect for the rights of every human being from an early age, especially those related to sexuality.

A voice that says “No”

Yoset Caled Pérez, coordinator in Barinas of the In ‘Defense of the Family Project’ of the ‘Arístides Calvani Center for Public Policies’ (Ifedec), on August 3rd promoted in the Pedraza Municipality of this plains state, the first forum with parents and representatives of children, girls and adolescents, dictated by Dr. Pedro Pablo Fernández, president of Ifedec, to warn that “they are introducing gender ideology into all schools in the country.”

The meeting caused a great impact because it is a town in the Andean area of Barinas, where there is ideological vulnerability, especially because it deals with an unknown topic that very few dare to talk about, even less if it is to reject it, for fear of being branded as hate mongers.

Fernández alerted his forum members that: “gender ideology states that biological sex does not determine us, that we can perceive ourselves in any way and society has the obligation to accept us.”

In turn, he clarified that: “this has nothing to do with gay rights. I am against any discrimination, I know a lot of homosexual people who I am very fond of. I don’t judge anyone for their sexual conduct.”

The director of Ifedec has explained these concepts over and over again, in different interviews with the media, because he believes that the issue of gender ideology must be made known in easy-to-understand doses that help defend the family, which is the main goal.

“Gender ideology is a banner of the plan orchestrated by the Socialist International, to which everyone (Chavistas and the opposition) belongs. That is why it is advancing vertiginously,” said Yoset Pérez, warning that if gender ideology in schools is legalized in Venezuela, euthanasia, abortion, pedophilia, drugs, among others, would follow. This represents “a Machiavellian plan that wants to destroy the family, society and persecute religion to separate our children from the values and principles of Western society.”

Comprehensive sex education versus morals

Mercedes Muñoz, presidenta de Avesa





Mercedes Muñoz, founder and president of the Venezuelan Association for Alternative Sexual Education (Avesa), an educator by profession with a master’s degree in Human Development, spoke with and explained that comprehensive sexual education “is not a method but an approach.” because from birth, the being is receiving sexual education, “because we are socialized regarding the subject of sexuality.” This allows her to assure that “in most cases we receive messages that problematize (sic) us with this subject.”

“If you are teaching a child of one or two years to speak and you are going to name the parts of the body, then you are going to tell him that the hand is the hand, the nose is the nose, the knee is the knee and you say where it is, but when you refer to the genitals you don’t name them or you do it with a number of names, of which there are so many, that at the end they do not have a name and you leave in the children an idea that this is a part of the body different from the others.”

With this explanation, Muñoz answers the question that has arisen these days, whether it is prudent to apply ESI in Venezuelan educational institutions, starting with preschool students.

Mercedes Muñoz believes that there is a way of looking at sexual education that occurs on a daily basis, from birth, whether one has a penis or a vulva, and the context already gives the individual messages through the toys that are bought for the children, the clothes, the colors that they are supposed to prefer, among other aspects.

According to this specialist, sexual education “must be discussed at home and in schools.” which is why she considers that the subject has generated a lot of confusion, which from her point of view “is done on purpose, with falsehoods and lacking information, without foundation.”

The Ministry of Education published a document with the curricular guidelines for Comprehensive Sexual Education in Venezuela in 2009, according to information from Muñoz, “where these are formally structured and what are the proposals” related to this topic.

Being a matter of health and rights, Mercedes Muñoz refers to the figures of sexual violence that the Public Ministry received during this year and she considers it necessary that”: “the State must act.”

Is it prudent to talk about sexuality with children?

– If you don’t talk, if you don’t debate, if you don’t think, if you don’t discuss. We will then have fewer tools to be autonomous, to take care of ourselves and to make responsible decisions, what we do is reproduce stereotypes without being aware of it, and I think the consequences are obvious.

What consequences could discussing issues about sexuality bring to a child?

– It is not necessary to induce them in the subject of sexuality, that subject is in daily life: they have pets, they have animals, they watch movies. It is not real, ourselves and no one can be disconnected from sexuality, it is present in our lives since before birth, even before women go to have their first exam at the pregnancy clinic, the first question is if it is a girl or child, because from there that will determine a number of very important things and the message that we are going to give to those children. It is not a subject that is induced, but one that must be reflected, discussed and talked about like everything else.”

Should sexuality be a topic of conversation by parents to children, or first by teachers to students?

– “It should be across the board. There are many people, the majority are not necessarily against having sex education as a content in schools. For example, if I had a position in the Ministry of Education right now, in a country where we have (female) soccer players who are world stars, young girls, I would save one of the clippings of what is happening in Spain with the president of the soccer federation and this gesture – Where he forcefully kissed a player – which in my opinion is an abuse of power and inappropriate, and would lead a debate in schools, in fourth and fifth grade, because children talk about it, ask, some say one thing and others say the other, and that is sexual education, it is a all encompassing issue. Like on Valentine’s Day, when you can grab the sixth-grade boys and read to them article seven of Julio Cortázar’s “Rayuela”, where there is a part about the kiss, which is beautiful, and analyze it from the point of view of literature, of the messages and what they think of the kiss, how they see it. In other words, this issue must be incorporated into school curricula with its specific objectives and as an enveloping subject.

What we need

As part of the final considerations on the subject, Mercedes Muñoz expressed that the sexuality of citizens, boys and girls, adolescents and the elderly, is a State problem “because it is a matter of human rights,” to which attention has been paid to it in other countries and the results show very favorable indicators, different from those of Venezuela, especially in relation to violence.

“There are public policies that must be (included) in the educational system, up to universities” that must be in charge of training professionals related to this problem, because in Venezuela, in none of the medical schools there is a subject related to the subject of sexual violence, and when doctors receive people who have been raped, they re-victimize them, because they begin to ask them how it happened, among other things that they have to know how to handle.

Muñoz insisted that there is already enough experience, protocols and international treaties so that medical professionals a aware of what to do in a case of sexual violence and its care. “In psychology, not to mention, I teach a subject called psycho-educational orientation in sexuality, which is elective, but there are no compulsory subjects, so you have to make it a State policy in education, in care.”

“This is not a discretionary thing, nor of private life, but it has to do with the rights of citizens to lead a life free of violence, to be able to make responsible decisions in relation to their reproductive life when the State does not offer contraceptives, nor does it regulate prices so that they are economically accessible, and people have to choose between buying a condom or buying bread, then we are failing the sexual and reproductive rights of citizens.”

In the sexual education that the Venezuelan population has received and that Mercedes Muñoz calls moralist, what has been taught is that sexuality is a matter of strictly private life, and that it has nothing to do with politics or human rights, and the is why it is essential to start mobilizing. This, she assures is precisely one of the things that: “Comprehensive Sexual Education intends to accomplish.”