Sex education in Portugal: how it's different from the US

SEX EDUCATION IN PORTUGAL: HOW IT'S DIFFERENT FROM THE USSex education is a topic that became very popular during the last couple of years. This might be because the two parties come up with different arguments for backing up their points of view. And they do not coincide. 

Sex education done in schools means that students learn about their sexuality, pregnancies, methods of contraception, and many more. The diseases that transmit sexually are also a point that is discussed in sex education programs.

But it is not only about this. Sex education is about learning about your sexuality, health, and your relationship with your body. Everyone should have opportunities to learn how to manage their own sexual health. So, how is education in Portugal done? Which are the differences between it and the US?

Portugal's Politics Regarding Sex Education

According to a report, the first law that brought to attention sex education in Portugal was issued in 1984. This was a consequence of the national debate on abortion. Two years later, sexuality was integrated into the study of a program, and changed over the course of the following years. Students were taught about traditional values such as marriage, but also about modern views on sexuality such as masturbation or prostitution.

However, in 2003, the rules of sex education were revised by the government. That was also the point when a decrease in programs on sex education in schools was triggered. At the same time, campaigns against sex education in schools have begun, and since then, the program has been paralyzed. Even though there are some rules now, sex education is not a distinct program in students’ curricula. It is usually taught by teachers of Philosophy, Biology, Religious Education, or Geography.

This should be food for thought, as every teacher has their perspective on sex education. And we can’t miss spotting the involvement of the church in this debate. A student who is taught by a biology teacher about sex education might have a distinct level of knowledge compared with a student taught by a religious education teacher. This is because the Church is against sex education in schools, as it believes it will increase the rate of sexual interactions. And as sex before marriage is a sin, they are only teaching abstinence.

Sex education is a subject discussed within an academic context too. Some students might have a class, course, or lesson on a topic related to sex education. And having to write an essay on this topic is one of the tasks they can get. If you want to write a good essay about sex education problem, here you can find thousands of abortion essay topics or another to about sex education. There are thousands of abortion essay topics to choose from that will present distinct perspectives on sex education and abortion.

Opinions on Abortion

Abortion is another debatable topic in Portugal, but in the rest of the world too. Until 1984, abortion in Portugal was completely illegal. However, some protests and campaigns began and marched for legal abortion and contraception. Even though abortion is now legal in Portugal, based on some grounds and if done until the 10th week of pregnancy, the opinions are divided. Of course, some people are pro-abortion and those who are against it. Their arguments are distinct but it all comes down to a single difference in their thinking patterns: when does life begin?

Those who think that life begins when the baby is born are more likely to be pro-abortion. Those who think that life begins when the sperm fertilizes the egg are more like to be against abortion.

And we can see that this debate is gaining more and more momentum across the world too. In the US, there are more and more states that start banning abortion. In Republican-led states, we can notice a cascade of banning abortion laws. The situation was already tense in the US. A few states did not have any pro-abortion laws, so other states were a refugee for them. But today, those states are passing laws that ban abortion too. And Florida is the last one of them, but Kentucky and Oklahoma have just passed anti-abortion laws before.

Why Is Sex Education Important to Students?

The opinions are diverse on this topic, but why is it so important for students to study sex education? As we grow up, we start discovering our bodies. Of course, during the adolescence period, we learn how to form relationships with others, but with our bodies too. The majority of older adolescents are sexually active. Yet, not all are aware that there are sexually transmitted infections or the risk of unwanted pregnancy.

There is a growing body of research on sex education and its impact on teen pregnancy. And it shows that teenagers who comprehensively get sex education, are less likely to remain pregnant. This comparison is done with teens that get no sex education at all, who might not know that there are contraceptive measures they can use. Or, with teens that are taught to wait until marriage to have sex.

Sex Education in the US vs Portugal

Even though most would think that the differences are immense, they are not. However, in the US, sex education is of higher importance than in Portugal. Even though the system is the same, meaning each school decides how to do sex education and if they do it, about 96% of parents in the US support studying it in schools. Since 2003, sex education is paralyzed in Portugal, while in the US 39 states have some kind of sex education.

Resources:

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080319151225.htm

https://www.nytimes.com/article/abortion-laws-us.html

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1016/S0968-8080%2802%2900025-3

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