A parents’ group has accused the federal government of attempting to indoctrinate children through sexual education content in new textbooks for first-year middle school students.
The National Parents Union (UNPF) also charged that the government wants to “control” children’s consciences and said that any sexual education provided to students should have a “transcendental” or spiritual component.
At a press conference yesterday, UNPF president Leonard García Camarena called into question the members of an expert group who were responsible for reviewing the content of new biology textbooks that will be distributed to students free of charge at the start of the 2018-19 school year.
“We’re complaining about things that don’t have any scientific proof, about the ideological baggage [of people] who, hiding in the offices of the state, want to indoctrinate our children . . .” he said, warning that the group was organizing across the country to stop that happening “without our consent.”
Criticizing the government of the day is not new for the conservative parents’ group.
In March 1975, the New York Times reported that the UNPF had charged that children were being indoctrinated in Marxist-Leninist ideology and “abnormal” sexual views through content in social and natural sciences textbooks.
Yesterday García said giving information to teenagers about contraceptives and other sexual education was like providing them with alcohol and paying for a motel room.
“If a family wants to give the pill and condoms [to their children], if it asks the government to be progressive and not just give them those things but also a six-pack [of beer] and a night in a motel, it’s that family’s problem but respect the judgement of the rest of us . . .” he said.
The newspaper El Universal reported last week that among the things that first-year middle-school students will learn about via new biology textbooks are that there are people with different sexual identities, and gay, bisexual and transsexual communities.
It also said the books contain information about sexual and reproductive rights as well as content relating to self-exploration of one’s own body.
In response to the UNPF’s criticism, the federal Public Education Secretariat (SEP) said in a statement that all the sexual education content in the textbooks was provided from an educational perspective within “the framework of sexual and reproductive health and human rights.”
SEP added that the aim of the content is to avoid sexually-related “fears, blame, false beliefs, coercion, discrimination and violence” among young people.
The books also take into consideration the constitutional rights of children to education, the department said.
The SEP also pointed out that sexual education is particularly important given that Mexico has the highest teen pregnancy rate among the member countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and because of the risks associated with contracting sexually transmitted infections.
In addition, it said the Federal Education Authority has the sole power to prepare, update and edit the government-sanctioned textbooks and added that it was ultimately up to teachers to decide what books they will use with their students.