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S02.2 Religious and faith-based beliefs: a help or a hindrance in sexual health education?
  1. Mary Lou Rasmussen
  1. Monash University, Melbourne, Australia


The Reverend Debra Haffner, a former CEO of SIECUS, and the Director of the Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Justice and Healing objects to the The National Sexuality Education Standards for US Public Schools (2012) published by The Guttmacher Institute in the United States. Haffner questions these standards because they fail to account for values and religious influences on sexuality education and religion. The absence of explicit references to religion and values in such standards reflect longstanding debates about the place of religion within secular states, and about the privatisation of religion and belief. These debates also impact perceptions about the role of religion in sexuality education and shape debates about the place of reason and science in sexuality education.

Haffner’s theological commitment to comprehensive sexuality education is accompanied by an expressed desire for a values-based framework for sexuality education. Unlike Haffner, I have no theological commitments in relation to sexuality education provision. However, I have come to question progressive sexuality education standards that do not explicitly engage with questions of faith, belief and their relationship to values. What are the grounds for this separation? Are there ways in which religion and values can be usefully incorporated in progressive sexuality education? Should such topics be left behind in the production of a progressive sexuality education?

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