By Chung Ah-young
Guidelines for sex education in schools have been condemned for controversial content that distorts the sexual perceptions of young students.
The Ministry of Education has distributed sex-ed material in kindergartens, elementary, middle and high schools since March, costing 600 million won. This is the first government-level sex education material for nationwide use.
Civic groups are calling for authorities to withdraw the materials because young students could be misled by the content.
For example, one section said differences in the amounts of money spent between men and women while dating can be a cause of violence. "Men are in control of money while women are wanted for their bodies in our society. So men who spend money on women when dating expect some rewards. In that process, sexual violence can occur," reads one section of the guidelines.
The ministry later erased that passage.
Choi Ran, head of the Korea Sexual Violence Relief Center, said the guidelines carry misleading information. For example, the material for elementary schoolchildren says that "a man's sexual desires can be expressed regardless of time and place." Choi said such a comment could be used to defend sex offenders.
Also, concerning sexual violence, the guideline says that it is important for women to express their refusal clearly. "If victims don't express refusal clearly enough, sexual violence can occur," it says.
Choi pointed out that this could make students believe victims are responsible for sexual violence too.
Also, words for "yadong" (porn) and masturbation are paraphrased as circumlocutions. "Such words are frequently used among young students. Education is falling behind reality," Choi said.
"The sex-ed material underestimates students' knowledge about sex. Even though teachers don't use such words, it doesn't mean students don't know them," she said.
Choi said that it is important to educate them about sex, not hide the facts.
"In the guidelines, women are described as an entity simply for bearing a child, while family diversity and different sexual orientations are discouraged," Bang I-seul, an activist of the Korea Sexual Violence Relief Center, said.
Civic groups say the guidelines are biased, instigating hatred toward sexual minorities, which is "outdated, anachronistic and unprofessional."
Park Hyun-i, activist of Aha Sexuality Education & Counseling Center for Youth, said the ministry didn't consult with sex education experts when making the materials and only reflected the opinions of conservative groups.
After civic groups voiced their displeasure, the ministry has changed some content. "We have provided revised materials to schools and will change parts on men's sexual desires after consulting with experts," the ministry said.
However, sex education experts say a partial revision doesn't fix the problem because the material focuses on abstinence and restraint rather than how to make proper decisions about sex and relationships.
성소수자 차별반대 무지개행동, 서울교육단체협의회 등 진보성향의 시민사회단체들은 24일 서울 중구 서울시NPO지원센터에서 기자간담회를 열고 교육부의 '국가 수준의 학교 성교육 표준안' 철회를 촉구했다.
이들 단체는 간담회에서 발표한 성명에서 '교육부가 올해 2월 공개한 학교 성교육 표준안에 대해 시대를 역행하고 인권침해적인 내용을 담고 있다는 질타와 민원이 국제인권단체를 비롯한 각계로부터 이어지고 있다'며 '표준안에 의한 교육 집행을 전면 중지하라'고 요구했다.
이들은 교육부의 성교육 표준안이 금욕강요, 성차별 강화, 장애·한부모·성소수자 배제 등 인권침해 내용을 담고 있다고 주장했다.
'이미 20년 이상 현장에서 활동하는 성교육 전문가들과 이해당사자의 의견은 전혀 수렴하지 않고, 일부 보수단체와 성소수자 인권을 반대하는 단체의 의견만을 수렴했다'며 성교육 표준안 추진 과정을 비판했다.
이들은 '제대로 된 성교육은 고정관념과 편견을 강화시키기보다 자유롭고 주체적으로 자신의 성을 인정하고 성 평등적인 인식을 가진 사회 구성원으로 성장하도록 돕는 것이어야 한다'고 강조했다. (연합뉴스)