There are different ways in which sex education is taught around the world. In the Netherlands, the national curriculum, in a primary school target, only mandates that “pupils learn about the makeup of plants, animals and humans and about the form and function of their parts.” Nevertheless, in a society that readily tolerates contraception, sexuality education and abortion, over half of the primary schools provide some form of sexuality education.
Sex education is compulsory in the first three years of secondary a. Because of the wide degree of control each school is given over its own curriculum, it is up to each institution to decide the depth to which subject matter is implemented and it may respect local norms and customs and be responsive to the concerns of parents.
The Australian curriculum introduces children to the “difference between private/non-private body parts” in Grades 1 and 2, puberty in Grades 3 and 4 and “exploration of sexual feelings” and “safe sex” in Grades 9 and 10. In Grades 7 to 8, the student is introduced to STDs and “behaviour that prevents STDs.” It is optional to teach children about “different forms of family structure,” which includes homosexual partners.
In India, meanwhile, sexual education is restricted to learning about reproduction and biological differences. India’s Union Ministry of Human Resource Development, after deciding to implement sex education in schools, had to withdraw its decision in 2009 because of a petition protesting the new curriculum, which also sparked a government report. The new curriculum was an effort to prevent the spread of AIDS and involved preventative education about the dangers of oral and anal sex. The petitioners stated that the proposed program was “an education to sell condoms” and would lead to an “immoral society.”
Meanwhile, in 2006, the Mexico government, though vehemently opposed by Catholic bishops and state governors, forced schools to implement biology textbooks for students in Grade 7 and up which have pornographic pictures, encourage students to look at internet pornography and state that homosexuality and masturbation are acceptable.
In the United States, 18 states and the District of Columbia require that schools teach any form of sex education, although there is great variation across the country. The District of Columbia mandates that students be taught contraception and does not require that they learn abstinence. However, Arkansas allows individual school boards to decide whether they will teach sexuality education, but if they do, they must stress the importance of abstinence. However, schools must teach HIV/AIDS issues to students, again with a focus on abstinence as the only guarantee to avoiding contraction of an STI. It is not required that they teach about contraceptives.