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    Conservatism strangles sex education

    It is worth emphasizing that sex education in schools comes as a supplement and not as a replacement for what parents may share at home

    By George Koumoulli


    A few days ago, specifically on the 17th of the month, it was expected that the plenary session of the Parliament would vote in favour of the proposal for a law by the president and MP of the Green Movement, Charalambos Theopemptos, for the introduction of sex education as a compulsory subject in schools. This vote was considered – wrongly as it turned out – certain, since only ELAM and two far-right MPs were negative (apparently at the suggestion of some hierarchs) against the bill.

    All of a sudden and unexpectedly, DIKO recoiled sternly and asked for the matter to be postponed. Perhaps the purpose of DIKO is, in cooperation with the conservative and ecclesiastical establishment, to permanently thwart the introduction of this measure.

    As Mr. Theopemtou said, “they are looking for excuses not to vote for it”. The fate of the bill is likely to be decided in the full house session next week.

    DIKO’s behaviour attests, once again, to how deep this party’s conservatism is.

    In 1998 it was the only party (there was no ELAM at the time) to vote against the bill to decriminalize homosexuality with a passion that even these Taliban would envy. Although the then president of the Parliament and president of DIKO, Spyros Kyprianou, voted in favor of the bill (which was a prerequisite for becoming a member of the EU), the rest of the party’s MPs led by parliamentary spokesman Tassos Papadopoulos voted against to the cheers of church and far-right circles.

    The reference to DIKO as a centrist party only provokes anger, unless of course it is clarified that the party, ideologically, lies in the center of the Right and Far Right. The life and state of the party cries loudly and penetratingly that this party is the bowels of the Cypriot patriarchal and conservative society.

    The issue of sex education in schools is also a matter of common sense. Sexuality is an integral part of human life.

    Children and young people have the right to receive reliable, scientific and comprehensive information about this. Unfortunately, conservatives and right-wing extremists in Cyprus are spreading falsified or misleading information about the sex education course.

    They present sex education as the “sexualization” of children at an early age or “propaganda in favor of homosexuality.” Misinformation about the actual content of the lesson is deliberately spread to scare parents.

    But there is also a group of opponents of sex education who support the right of parents to exempt their children from compulsory sex education. However, international human rights standards on the right to freedom of religion or belief do not give parents the right to withdraw children from sex education classes when the relevant information is conveyed in an objective and impartial manner.

    Therefore, it is considered the responsibility of the State to convince parents that sex education in schools is necessary. Children in most cases can receive information from other sources, in particular from the internet and NCDs, which may be useful and appropriate sources of information, but can also convey a distorted picture of sexuality and lack information regarding e.g. emotional aspects and love or have inaccurate information; for example with regard to contraception or homosexuality.

    It is worth emphasizing that sex education in schools comes as a complement, and not as a replacement for what parents may share at home. However, it cannot be left solely to families. In what other area of science do we give our children’s education exclusively online or to families?

    It is difficult to combat the bias of Cypriot society around sex education, as it is very conservative comparing it with other EU countries.

    It is not surprising to see on Mr. Theopemptos’ Twitter account the “defenders of Orthodoxy and Hellenism” hurling incomprehensible insults against the MP. All this shrewdness moons at the sound of ‘sex education’ and, as “Politis” wrote on Wednesday, considers it “an anomaly of what they themselves learned from friends and sites.”

    What is conservatism that strangles progress is described by a former Prime Minister of England, Benjamin Disraeli, in his classic novel “Coningsbay” (1844). So Disraeli wrote: “Conservatism rejects acquired rights, fears ideological principles, forbids progress. Having shed all respect for the past, offers no correction for the present, and makes no suggestion for the future” And below in a parable:

    “This conservatism seems to me a sterile thing- an unfortunate crossing, the mule of politics that gives birth to nothing.”

    But his transatlantic counterparts were also scathing about conservatism. Roosevelt in a radio message in 1939 emphasized: “A conservative is a man with two healthy legs who, however, has never learned to walk.”

    But, why not mention our “own” Isocrates who told us: “You know how both the arts and everything else progress, not by those who cling to the established, but by those who correct and dare always to move something of the wrongs” (Evagoras, 7).

    And what are the “bad” texts we all know….



    *Opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of CypriumNews.


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