San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Catholic Church Proposes New Sex-Ed Guides

THE Catholic Church has proposednew sex-ed guidebooks to the Council ofSuperior Education, which is studying theproposal, La Nación reported.The material in the guides adjusts previousproposals by the church and isbased on the human being as a whole, noton biology and genitals, San José Arch-bishop Hugo Barrantes told La Nación.The guides also promote personalitydevelopment, parental love, friendship,chastity and virginity.The issue of discussing sex inschools has a long history of controversyin Costa Rica, where 90% of the populationis Catholic and Catholicism is theofficial religion.Sex education has been included inscience, religion and achievement classesin schools since the 1990s and even earlierin many cases.However, instruction varies fromschool to school, and no official sexual educationbooks exist. Instead, teacherscan elect to distribute portions of theDidactic Guide for Education inPopulation in the Area of HumanSexuality, whose publication in 1993 wassurrounded by controversy.At the start of the school year, theMinistry of Education began distributingnew policy guides that attempted to“comprehensively” address sex ed inschools, focusing on values and ethics(TT, Feb. 27). The guides were releasedwithout approval from the CatholicChurch.A year ago, Esmeralda Britton,Minister of Women’s Affairs until thisweek (see separate story), accused thechurch in Costa Rica of slowing the formulationof policies in education onsexuality.

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