German Parents Convicted after Withdrawing Daughter from Explicit Sex-Ed Program: Appeal Filed

Wed Apr 22, 2009 - 12:15 pm EST

April 22, 2009 ( - Alliance Defense Fund attorneys are representing two German parents in an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights filed Tuesday. The two parents were convicted under German law when they chose to educate their child at home on the subject of sexuality rather than allow her to participate in a four-day "sexual education" course and related stage production at her school, both of which taught views of sexuality in conflict with the family’s Christian faith.

"Parents, not the government, are the ones ultimately responsible for making educational choices for their children," said ADF Legal Counsel Roger Kiska.

The parents, Eduard and Elisabeth Elscheidt, and their three children are active in the Christian Baptist Church. The Elscheidts were concerned about allowing their 11-year-old daughter Franziska to attend four school days of "sexual education" and a mandatory, interactive stage play titled, "Mein Körper gehört mir" ("My Body Is Mine") in February 2007. They regarded the play and lessons as morally harmful.

The parents, being convinced that they were within their legal and moral rights to protect their daughter, removed her from the offending play and accompanying lessons, instead opting to educate her according to their own views on sexuality during those days. They did not withdraw their daughter from any other school programs or classes. The parents believe that the play and lessons were not only opposed to their faith, but also obliterated their rights under Protocol 1, Article 2 of the European Convention of Human Rights.

The Elscheidts argued to a German court that no scientific proof existed that the programs prevented child abuse (the play’s stated purpose) but, to the contrary, taught the children to become sexually active by ultimately teaching the principle that if something feels good sexually, then it is acceptable to do it. The court nonetheless convicted and fined the Elscheidts in June 2008.

Two subsequent appeals were rejected, resulting in the appeal to the European Court of Human Rights filed Tuesday. The application objects to the punitive measures applied by the German court in convicting the applicants and seeks to establish that such opt-outs of "sexual education" programs are in line with ECHR Protocol 1, Article 2.

ADF Counsel Kiska said, "These parents were well within their rights under the European Convention of Human Rights to opt to teach their children a view of sexuality that is in accord with their own religious beliefs instead of sending them to a class and stageplay they found objectionable. These types of cases are crucial battles in the effort to keep bad decisions overseas from being relied upon by activists who attack parental rights in America."

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