Coming of Age in the Classroom: Religious and cultural barriers to comprehensive sexuality education


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This ARROW paper examines the issues and challenges facing the increasingly larger youth population of the world, especially those pertaining their sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and comprehensive sexuality education (CSE).

As young people face legacy problems such as vulnerability to disease, female genital mutilation and early and child marriage, normative assumptions about sexuality hinders efforts to equip them with knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values needed to determine and enjoy their sexuality. The opposition to CSE has been shown to be aligned with deep religious and political predispositions which are inextricable from rapidly changing political, economic, and social contexts. By looking at qualitative evidence from Bangladesh and India, this paper looks at how societal panic and anxiety about sexuality and sexual behaviour of young people influences their access to both SRHR and CSE, and provides recommendations for future actions.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction 5
  2. Situating Comprehensive Sexuality Education within the socio-political and economic context of developing countries 6
  3. Infusing Secularity with Morality: Situating responses to CSE within the context of state formation in Bangladesh and India 8
  4. How religion influences policy and practice of CSE
  5. Conclusions 17
  6. Recommendations 18
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