Examination of sexual rights as a basis for sexuality education in Switzerland: Concepts from youth, parent and professional actor system

Signs of a worldwide trend towards the sexual rights as a basis for the individual realisation of sexual health are emerging. This perspective – a conception of sexual health that goes beyond the mere absence of illness and unwanted consequences of sexuality – is also reflected in the publications of national and international organisations, such as those of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (2008). This also bears an influence on sexuality education, in which sexuality-related human rights and associated basic democratic values now deliver the ethical frame of reference. The human rights trio of freedom, equality and solidarity should, in this context, be interpreted as sexual self-determination, non-discrimination and consensual sexual relations. This recent development takes account of comprehensive sexuality education at a technical and conceptual level, as propounded by the WHO Regional Office for Europe’s Standards for Sexuality Education in Europe 2010. It aims to leverage educational contents to facilitate independent, informed decision making and point up realisation opportunities.

The study presented at the conference aims to provide the political and technical discussion with knowledge-based principles for the conceptualisation of a comprehensive sexuality education programme in Switzerland, the intention being to instil objectivity and consolidation into the discussion, particularly in school as well as in child and youth welfare contexts. Building on a qualitative examination of the relevant actor system – youth, parent and professional – the study highlights the perception, interpretation and practice of sexuality education, taking account of the relevance of sexual rights. The findings shared in the presentation are based on 24 individual interviews conducted throughout Switzerland with professionals delivering sexuality education in schools. The results provide insights into the offerings and principles underlying sexuality education in Switzerland, the relevance of sexual rights and ideas as to what represents ideal sexuality education in the school.

The study by the Lucerne School of Social Work is a collaboration with the Geneva School of Social Work (2015-2016) and Sexual Health Switzerland (2015-2018).