Rutgers: More schools need to teach children about homosexuality
Rutgers, a foundation that advocates for sexual and reproductive health and rights, has said that more primary schools in the Netherlands need to teach children about homosexuality.
Sexual education in Dutch schools
Most primary schools in the Netherlands do cover some aspects of sex education with pupils, but according to new figures published by Rutgers, one-third doesn’t cover the topic of homosexuality. They are asking for sex education to become more diverse.
Since 2012, it has been mandatory for schools in the Netherlands to cover sex education - in a “respectful” manner - as part of the curriculum, but data from the past few years has shown that not all schools follow this rule. However, these new figures show that 98 percent of primary schools provide some level of sexual education.
Dutch gay rights organisation COC agrees with Rutgers, saying that many schools pay too little attention to sexual and gender identity. They feel improved education in schools would mean children are less likely to grow up believing any harmful stereotypes.
Advocating for a more diverse curriculum
But Rutgers thinks the education being provided isn’t diverse enough. Elsbeth Reitzema, a researcher at Rutgers, says it is important that children receive not only education about their own bodies and relationships, but also learn at a young age about different sexualities. She thinks conversations about different sexualities can easily be weaved into existing conversations, for example, in a conversation about relationships, teachers can explain that some children have two mothers and that that is normal.
“Young children can already have homosexual feelings themselves. You have to tell them that those feelings are okay so that they feel accepted,” Rietzma says, while also arguing the importance of diverse sexual education for heterosexual children: “They need to learn that such feelings are normal and not something to bully others with."
The foundation conducted a survey among more than 400 schools in the Netherlands in an attempt to find out why schools aren’t teaching a more diverse curriculum, but found no clear, overarching reason. Religious affiliation could be one reason, or that teachers feel uncomfortable teaching such material to children.