Woman at a radio station (Photo by Jeroen van Loon)

Rutgers provided sexual education for Dutch parliament

On May 19th Rutgers gave a special lesson on sexuality education to a committee from the Dutch Parliament, which has caused quite a stir. Rutgers was accompanied by sexologist and television personality Goedele Liekens and a group of students. During the lesson Rutgers will promote the idea that empowerment should become an integral part of the primary goals in education regarding sexuality and relationships. Rutgers hopes that the Netherlands will continue to encourage other countries to address this issue as well.

Goedele Liekens & Yuri OhlrichsRutgers has organized this lesson as part of the global day on sexuality education and youth rights instigated by IPPF. Ton Coenen, Executive Director of Rutgers, explains: ‘It is important that all young people in the world are entitled to good and age appropriate information and tools about sexuality and relationships. This helps them to become empowered and to make informed, healthy and respectful choices on sexuality and relationships.’ 

During the lesson the Members of Parliament and the students were briefed interactively and on topics such as male-female relationships, stereotypes in different cultures and sexual needs and boundaries on the basis of various video films and a quiz. 

Empowerment as core goal

In the Netherlands young people have experienced a lot of boundary crossing sexual behaviour within relationships or during sexual experimenting. Reliable and objective information provided by schools can counter this development and promote sexual resilience. Recent research from Rutgers and a Dutch Broadcasting Corporation shows, however, that only 25 percent of schoolchildren from 9 to 12 years old are taught about sexual boundaries.

Long Live Love

‘Young people know quite a lot about preventing pregnancy and STIs, but a respectful relationship, empowerment, good communication and fun for two are also key issues to deal with in the classroom,’ according to Ineke van der Vlugt, programme coordinator at Rutgers. We have a lot of good teaching material on these subjects, such as Long Live Love, but schools are sometimes reluctant to teach these lessons to their students. ‘We also want the teaching curriculum on sexuality to be more specific, and the teachers’ expertise further improved; we would like sexuality and relationships education to be guaranteed in the new plan ‘Onderwijs2032’ (Education 2032’).

Development policy

Rutgers strongly believes that sexuality and relationships education must remain an integral part of Dutch development policy. For many years the Netherlands has been in the lead on this issue. Ton Coenen: "Good sexuality and relationships education is not just about problems, but also about the positive aspects of sexuality. It also takes into account the specific context, culture and sensitivities and needs of young people in a particular country.’

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