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In Austria, Debate Over Sex Ed Training

A government-commissioned 152-page brochure gives school educators some much-needed guidelines, but it also discusses alternative lifestyles to a detail that some groups say is unacceptable.

What’s the Latest Development?

Austrian educators, who currently don’t get much training on the teaching of sexuality in schools, have been offered a new booklet titled “Really Quite Intimate” that apparently lives up to its name: The 152-page document, which was developed by the sexual abuse prevention advocacy group Selbstlaut at the government’s request, “includes detailed written information on masturbation, homosexuality and intersexuality” and discusses sperm banks and surrogacy, both of which are illegal. The producers of the booklet say their goal is to teach children to be open to discussing any aspect of sexuality: “[G]ood material for sexual education should not merely cement the status quo. It should surprise, inspire and challenge.”

What’s the Big Idea?

Unsurprisingly, conservative groups are outraged, calling the booklet “a discredit to the core family” and an attack on family values. However, the Vienna government and other groups say that the document reflects today’s society and is much needed in order to help educators better serve the children they work with. One Green Party member of Austria’s parliament agrees with Selbstlaut, saying, “Children find it easier to talk about their own experiences if they are used to confronting adults with embarrassing questions or difficult feelings.” 

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