Trinidad and Tobago Humanist Association

tt.humanist :: views :: sexuality

Sex and Relationships Education (SRE)

Our view...

"... those countries which outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation have not had their social fabric torn apart. In fact, every relevant indicator - crime rates, poverty levels, literacy - says that their societies are much more tightly wrapped than our own. But what the CCSJ wants is to inject specifically irrational and intolerant religious beliefs into secular legislation."

However, since secularism is strongly correlated to social development, we urge the government not to be intimidated by the rantings of religious fundamentalists, and to let the discussion on gay rights and abortion law reform go forward. The TT Humanists recommendation is that the Draft Policy be tabled in Parliament, so that citizens can hear a debate on fundamental issues of human rights, discrimination, and morality in the nation's highest forum.

See • TT Humanist : News : Launch : Sexuality :

The Problem with Abstinence Only

See • TT Humanist : Forum : Commentary : Gender :

Statement on the Draft National Gender Policy and Action Plan

Global extracts...

"Abstinence-only programmes deny people full and accurate information on condoms and contraceptive options, and fail to provide advice to those who desire to engage in sexual activity before or outside marriage."

National AIDS Trust HIV Prevention and Abstinence Policy Position

There is no evidence to suggest that abstinence-only programmes are more effective than the more comprehensive risk-reduction approach in reducing HIV, STIs and unplanned pregnancies. There is some evidence that such abstinence-only programmes make people less likely to act safely and healthily once sexual activity has commenced."

Sources: www.nat.org.ukPage Top

Global extracts...

"The goal of such education is to provide facts so that students are empowered to make informed decisions regarding their sexuality."

A Humanist Statement On Sexuality Education (AHA)

"We agree with the numerous scientific studies that support comprehensive sexuality education in public schools as the most effective way to promote healthy sexual behaviors. These studies further demonstrate that abstinence-only-until-marriage programs don’t work, and we believe they are motivated more by conservative ideology and religious fundamentalism than by public heath considerations. Furthermore, society best expresses its trust in the next generation by reporting scientific findings in this subject area truthfully and accurately. Such trust necessarily requires the disclosure of the most up-to-date information about different forms of contraception."

"Sexuality education programs in public schools should reflect our shared ethical values—not the sectarian values of any one particular group. Programs in human sexuality should encourage young people to communicate honestly about their sexuality, take responsibility for their sexual actions, and respect the sexual differences of others"

Sources: www.americanhumanist.org

Our views...

A complete and sustained sex education programme that combines information on abstinence, being faithful, and contraceptive use, should be mandatory in all schools. These programmes should be non-judgmental and non-directive, fuelled by fact and by respect for the individual's right to think independently.

Page TopFrom: TT Humanist statement on Abstinence Only

While comprehensive sex education accommodates messages on abstinence, fidelity and condom use all at once, Abstinence Only education actively and explicitly undermines the safe sex message. An eight-year-long study on the effect of virginity pledges published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, found that pledgers' STD infection rate did not differ from non-pledgers. Not only do most pledgers start having sex before they make it to marriage, but many are not equipped with critical information on consistent and correct condom use. By contrast, countries such the Netherlands, Sweden, and France, which have comprehensive sex education programmes, have lower teenage pregnancy and STD rates than countries which do not have such programmes.

See: TT Humanist statement on Abstinence Only

Global extracts...

"... all children are entitled to full and accurate SRE, including unbiased information on contraception, STDs, abortion, sexual orientation, and the many forms of family relationship conducive to individual fulfilment and the stability of society"

Page TopA humanist perspective

"The BHA represents and supports non-religious people: members, humanists and those in the wider community who aspire to live good lives without religion or superstition. It is committed to encouraging informed and responsible choice. It therefore believes that all children are entitled to full and accurate SRE, including unbiased information on contraception, STDs, abortion, sexual orientation, and the many forms of family relationship conducive to individual fulfilment and the stability of society."

"Humanists have always been willing to work for the common good alongside the many reasonable representatives of religious communities, on the basis of our shared human values. However, humanists firmly oppose the intolerant and repressive attitudes to human sexuality expressed by some religious and political groups and individuals, and it is clear to us, as it is to most in education, that the choice is not between Biblical values and none at all - though some religious commentators will claim that it is."

"The BHA applies humanist values of rationality, inclusion, openness, and concern for human happiness and welfare when working out policy, and its approach to SRE evolves in response to developments in society and in the world of education."

Sources: www.humanism.org.uk

Page TopA New Bill of Sexual Rights and Responsibilities

The link above points to a statement that first appeared in The Humanist of January/February 1976. Following are the main headings:

  1. The boundaries of human sexuality need to be expanded
  2. Developing a sense of equity between the sexes is an essential feature of a sensible morality
  3. Repressive taboos should be replaced by a more balanced and objective view of sexuality based upon a sensitive awareness of human behavior and needs
  4. Each person has both an obligation and a right to be informed about the various civic and community aspects of human sexuality
  5. Potential parents have both the right and the responsibility to plan the number and time of the birth of their children, taking into account both social needs and their own desires
  6. Sexual morality should come from a sense of caring and respect for others; it cannot be legislated
  7. Physical pleasure has worth as a moral value
  8. Individuals are able to respond positively and affirmatively to sexuality throughout life; this must be acknowledged and accepted
  9. In all sexual encounters, commitment to humane and humanistic values should be present

Sources: www.americanhumanist.org

Page TopOur views...

From: TT Humanist statement on the Draft National Gender Policy and Action Plan

"... those countries which outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation have not had their social fabric torn apart. In fact, every relevant indicator - crime rates, poverty levels, literacy - says that their societies are much more tightly wrapped than our own. But what the CCSJ wants is to inject specifically irrational and intolerant religious beliefs into secular legislation."

However, since secularism is strongly correlated to social development, we urge the government not to be intimidated by the rantings of religious fundamentalists, and to let the discussion on gay rights and abortion law reform go forward. The TT Humanists recommendation is that the Draft Policy be tabled in Parliament, so that citizens can hear a debate on fundamental issues of human rights, discrimination, and morality in the nation's highest forum.

See: TT Humanist statement on the Draft National Gender Policy and Action Plan

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