NEW YORK, February 5 (C-FAM) – The UN's educational and cultural agency says that the purpose of educating children is not only to foster their literacy and social advancement, but also to teach them where and how to have an abortion and to increase their tolerance for same-sex behavior.

In its report, “Teaching and Learning: Achieving Quality for All,” released last week, UNESCO said that educated women reduce their risk of dying from pregnancy complications by adopting better hygiene practices, having skilled birth attendants, recognizing symptoms of bleeding or high blood pressure, and “by assessing how and where to have an abortion.”

The report agrees with the role of education in reducing deaths and injuries from pregnancy or childbirth by reducing child marriage and delaying the initiation of sexual activity. But it deviates widely from the literature by claiming that such gains require that girls be taught how to procure abortions.


A graph “Love Thy Neighbour?” claims that education increases tolerance, citing differences in attitudes among people with primary or secondary education. The results from both Latin America and Arab countries showed that respondents with a secondary education were more likely to look favorably on having a next-door neighbor of a different language, race, religion, or national origin, or one who is HIV-positive.

However, when asked if they would prefer having a same-sex attracted neighbor, Arab respondents with a secondary education had essentially the same response as their less educated neighbors. In Latin America, the difference was 32%. The report’s authors acknowledge, “in many parts of the world, people remain intransigent in their attitudes towards homosexuality.”

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This regional discrepancy in attitude underscores that level of education is only one variable – the content of the curriculum also matters. At an international AIDS conference in Mexico in 2008, Latin American leaders pledged to incorporate HIV prevention into education standards. This initiative was in direct conflict with not only cultural but also legal standards in many of the countries represented. A 2010 UNESCO regional review of Latin America and the Caribbean admits that, “some countries had to consider the contradiction of incorporating the issue of sexual diversity in school curriculum while sodomy and homosexuality continued to be outlawed.”

background paper prepared for the recent education report further undercuts the simplicity of the argument that higher education equals greater tolerance. In China and Turkey, which are generally not considered permissive of same-sex activity, significant differences in attitude were only measured among the university-educated. In India, the results were completely contradictory to the UNESCO report: those with only a primary education were more tolerant of same-sex activity than those with a secondary education.

UNESCO concludes, “education can take time to have an impact on ingrained attitudes,” and calls for “specific policy measures” to ensure that children “learn in school the importance of tolerance.”  

UNESCO stirred controversy in recent years by partnering with Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) to generate a sex education curriculum encouraging early sexual exploration and the avoidance of “moralization”. SIECUS was founded by a former Planned Parenthood medical director as an offshoot of the Kinsey Institute, which was recently approved for UN recognition. 

Reprinted with permission from C-FAM.