European Sexuality Education Expert Group Plans New Activities and Research Projects
Sexuality education has recently frequently been discussed in mass media in Latvia. FEMM (the European Parliament's Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality) published the results from the study “Comprehensive sexuality education: why is it important?” in 2022. The study presents the status of sexuality education in the EU as well as recommendations for improving it.(1)
Policy makers and managers of programmes related to education and to sexual and reproductive health and rights in Europe and beyond are familiar with the Standards for Sexuality Education in Europe that have been developed by the expert group and published in 2010 by the WHO Regional office for Europe and BZgA, the WHO Collaborating Center for Sexual and Reproductive Health in Cologne, Germany. The standards have been translated into 14 languages and a number of publications have followed to ensure further development of national sexuality education programmes and their implementation.(2)(3)
After COVID-19 caused a break in in-person meetings, the expert group on sexuality education met in Berlin in March 2023 to generate an exchange on the latest national and international developments in sexuality education in the WHO European Region, to agree on the topics, the structure, and the next steps of updating the Standards for Sexuality Education in Europe, as well as to discuss new research and missing data.
Scientific research in the last 10 years on the effectiveness and implementation of comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) was presented and new trends in CSE research were discussed.
Despite the number of research projects on CSE there are a number of outcomes that are not sufficiently represented in scientific studies on the effectiveness of sexuality education. Little is known about how and why sexuality education does or doesn't work. Despite the fact that around 300 articles and 4 reviews have been published on sexuality education, only a few are from the WHO European Region.
The following topics are a selection of topics that are not covered and require special attention for further research:
- Inclusion of disability, gender diversity, anti-racism, fertility education;
- Specific age groups: younger children and college students;
- Focus on wellbeing;
- Teacher comfort while delivering CSE;
- Parents’ perspectives and involvement;
- Use of technology in CSE;
- Topics: pornography, consensual and non-consensual sexting, online bullying;
- Delivery: online CSE, blended CSE, use of artificial intelligence, sexuality education on social media platforms.
CSE requires a multidisciplinary approach and students of all levels at Rīga Stradiņš University (RSU) are encouraged to consider filling the research gaps in CSE, anarea that is important for each individual as well as for the society in general.
- Michielsen & Ivanova (2022). Comprehensive sexuality education: why is it important? Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs Directorate-General for Internal Policies PE 719.998
- Overview of publications of the WHO CC; BZgA; 2021
- The Federal Centre for Health Education (BZgA), WHO Collaborating Center for Sexual and Reproductive Health