Accommodating Ideological Pluralism in Sexuality Education

Journal of Moral Education 26 (3):285-300 (1997)
Abstract Because norms related to sexuality are an important determinant of the nature of society, sexuality education in schools is the subject of passionate debate. This discourse reflects a struggle between Restrictive and Permissive sexual ideologies. These ideologies compete for influence in shaping sexuality education. As a result, some sexuality education programmes constitute ideological indoctrination. Many other programmes, because of the ideological conflict surrounding sexuality, omit important sexual health information. The objective of this paper is to articulate the basic parameters of a democratic philosophy of sexuality education. The aim of this philosophy is to accommodate ideological pluralism related to sexuality while simultaneously ensuring that educational programmes provide the necessary information and skills to facilitate the human right to sexual health. Based on Rawls? (1993) theory of political liberalism, this philosophy proposes that sexuality education ought to be centred upon the overlapping consensus within a democracy on the right to freedom of belief. In contrast to many prevailing forms of sexuality education, it is contended that a democratic educational approach must facilitate the ability to deliberate critically between competing ideological perspectives on sexuality. The Canadian Guidelines for Sexual Health Education are offered as an example of a democratic philosophy of sexuality education. In conclusion, evidence is provided to suggest that parents support a democratic approach to sexuality education
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DOI 10.1080/0305724970260304
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J. Rawls (1995). Political Liberalism. Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 57 (3):596-598.

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