Adonis Diaries

Sex-Education in Lebanese Schools: Let’s talk

Posted on: July 12, 2015

Sex-Ed in Lebanese Schools: Let’s talk

Apparently, the author of this article is Loulwa (Got this info from her comment)

Lebanon has been described as one of the most liberal Arab countries, but traces (traces? How funny) of conservatism are evident in the fact that speaking about anything remotely related to sex is labeled as shameful, at times even in clinical settings with a physician.

As such, the simple fact that sexual education has the word, “sex” in it has landed it on top of a long list of taboos.

So let’s talk about sex, or more specifically, let’s talk about the lack of sex-ed in Lebanese schools, and why that needs to change.

One of the common misconceptions about sex-ed is that it is solely and primarily concerned with the act of sexual intercourse.

But sex-ed is more than merely a crash-course in coitus, with gynecologist and public health advocate Faysal El-Kak noting that

“sexual education is about developing the right attitudes, promoting an understanding of sexual health, rights and consent, and discussing the value of sex in people’s lives in terms of emotional expression and experience.”

Diana Abou Abbas and Cynthia El Khoury, the manager and program coordinator of the Beirut-based sexual health clinic Marsa, also stress that children need to be educated about prevention methods and treatment options for sexually-transmitted infections so that they will not be at a greater risk of contracting them when they do become sexually active.

Furthermore, they need to be exposed to issues of bodily rights and consent. Abou Abbas and El Khoury note that many clients who approach Marsa report a forced first sexual encounter.

And if teachers and parents are worried about inadvertently encouraging sex through sex-ed discussions, El-Kak notes that

evidence indicates that talking to youth or adolescents about sex actually delays the age of engagement in first sexual activity.”

What sex-ed does increase is the likelihood of safe sex in the future, thereby decreasing the chances of STI transmission and unwanted pregnancies.

Sex-ed also helps children learn about the bodily changes that they are experiencing at puberty in an informative rather than intimidating manner.

For example, Marsa recently released the witty, child-friendly video “Leila the Spy,” which “busts the myths around menstruation.”

Another issue is that, try as parents might, there is little they can do to stop their children from learning about sex one way or another.

The Lebanese blogger Leblad recently recounted his first experience as a peer-educator, stepping into a classroom prepared to lead an administration-approved, puberty-based discussion with students, only to find that elementary-school kids had questions revolving around a lot more than just puberty.

“A common argument that I hear when I tell people that I am a peer educator is that kids are not mature or ready to hear such things,” says Leblad, but notes that they already are being exposed to sexual ideas because of unlimited access to the internet.

Existing educational systems should therefore be encouraged to adopt sex-ed because “we need to get that information to them first so they know the facts.”

Farah Mouhanna, a current biology teacher who completed her thesis on factors associated with attitudes towards reproductive health education (the more societally-acceptable term for sex-ed) in middle-school students in Lebanon, notes that many of the students she interviewed had received information about sex from pornographic videos, other sources from the internet, or friends who were as misinformed as they were.

It’s hard for them to have access to reliable sources about sex because it’s taboo, so parents and schools are not discussing it and neither is the media,” says Mouhanna.

“So you can’t control the sources that they are accessing. It’s a cycle,” she continues, “don’t educate them, and they can’t have the taboo removed, and unless you remove the taboo, you can’t educate them, and we need to break the cycle somehow.”

And according to a 2011 article, it seems that we were taking a cautious step in the right direction to break the vicious cycle, with the Center for Educational Research and Development, collaborating with the UNPFA to develop sex-ed-inclusive curricula for Lebanese schools.

But the process is slow, as the curricula have yet to be implemented years later.

Until sexual education becomes part of the lesson plan, the NGO LeMSIC-SCORA offers peer-education sessions to students and provides a safe environment for children to ask whatever questions they may have.

Furthermore, Marsa offers discounted and confidential medical consultations, laboratory screenings and tests for STIs, as well as psychosocial support for issues under the scope of sexual health, orientation, gender and violence.

One of the common misconceptions about sex-ed is that it is solely and primarily concerned with the act of sexual intercourse.

But sex-ed is more than merely a crash-course on coitus…

Let’s talk about sex, or more specifically, let’s talk about the lack of sex-ed in Lebanese schools, and why that needs to change.

3 Responses to "Sex-Education in Lebanese Schools: Let’s talk"

Hello, could you cite me as the author of this article please? Thank you 🙂

Got you covered. Among all the names in this article, how come I didn’t come across your name?

I was keeping it anonymous at the time bc of family issues, but recently contacted to add my name 🙂

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July 2015

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