The 1st SexAFIN International Virtual Conference: (Re)thinking comprehensive sexuality education from a child-centered and gendered perspective
Between 2010 and 2019, 134 cases of gang rape were reported in Spain (Martínez, 2019). The population’s reaction to these events has sparked public debate about the need to incorporate comprehensive education regarding gender and sexuality in educational centers as a tool to prevent sexual violence and sexist behaviors (Alías, 2018; Martínez, 2019), an idea that poses a problem for Spain’s political agenda.
Childhood sexuality is considered a sensitive issue in Spain (Alvarez, Malgosa and Marre, 2022) and, as in other cultural contexts, childhood is represented as asexual and innocent (Blasie, 2009, 2013; Davies and Robinson, 2010; Egan and Hawkes, 2008; Frankham, 2006; Holford, Emma and Huuki, 2013; Moore and Reynolds, 2018; Renold, 2005). Therefore, despite the recommendations made by various international (UNESCO, 2009; WHO Regional Office for Europe & Federal Center for Health Education, 2010) and national (Organic Law 2/2010) organizations, current Spanish law on education (Organic Law 8/2013) does not allow for sexual education in primary schools. On December 29, 2020, the Spanish socialist government approved a new educational law (Organic Law 3/2020) that incorporates sexual education within health education in a transversal way. The law is in a preliminary state; its full implementation is expected to be completed in 2024. As such, new educational curricula have not yet been developed, nor has it been specified how teacher training will be developed. However, this legislative change provides an ideal framework to reflect on what kind of sexual education we want to offer to children.
As part of the SexAFIN project, the AFIN-UAB Group conducted research on sex education between 2017 and 2021 within the educational communities of primary schools, in which 1,800 children from two schools in the City of Juarez (Mexico) participated. The results are consistent with international research (Bhana, 2013) suggesting that gender power asymmetries develop around sexuality. Therefore, it is necessary to educate students about sexuality in order to promote equality.
This conference, organized by the AFIN Research Group of the Autonomous University of Barcelona and financed by the National Institute of Women (Spanish Ministry of Equality), aims to contribute to the development of education about equality and comprehensive sex education. The program will facilitate the exchange of research findings and cross-disciplinary perspectives, while also allowing us to (re)think the sex education that we offer from a perspective of gender centered on childhood.