Comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) is a critical means of improving young people’s access to sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services and their ability to make safe and informed decisions. CSE can be defined as an age-appropriate, culturally relevant rights-based and gender focused approach to teaching about sexuality and relationships by providing scientifically accurate, realistic, non-judgmental information to youth, whether in or out of school. CSE aims to equip children and young people with the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values that will enable them to develop a positive view of their sexuality, in the context of their emotional and social development However, the topic of abortion remains absent from most CSE programs, which diminishes young people’s ability to avoid the dangers of unsafe abortion and to exercise their right to safe, legal abortion services.
In January 2018, a revised edition of the United Nations’ International Technical Guidance on Sexuality Education was released with significant new recommendations on abortion, as well as new evidence that shows CSE reduces unintended pregnancy and unsafe abortion.
The updated guidance provides an opportunity for governments and civil society organizations to strengthen their sexuality education programs by integrating scientifically accurate and complete information, including on topics that are often considered sensitive or stigmatized, such as contraception, HIV/AIDs, sexual orientation, gender identity and abortion. Such content additions will help adolescents make informed reproductive health choices, in turn helping countries achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) related to health and gender equity.
Ipas have created a Comprehensive Sexuality Education for Youth factsheet which summarizes the global movement to improve and expand CSE and offers key standards and approaches for creating quality CSE programs that include accurate, non-biased information about contraception and safe abortion.