Romania’s Parliament passes controversial bill that changes "sex education" into "sanitary education"
After two years of debate between political parties, Romania’s Chamber of Deputies passed a bill concerning sex education classes in schools.
However, the new law allows sex education to be taught only to students in grade 8 or higher, and only with the consent of their parents or guardians. Moreover, the bill does not actually directly refer to these classes as sex education classes but uses the term „sanitary education” – a decision that led to a serious row in the Chamber of Deputies.
The bill is a modification of Law 272/2004 Article 46 line i) which states that children shall be the beneficiaries of “systematic delivery of life education programs in schools, including sex education for children to prevent contracting any sexually transmitted diseases, as well as under-age pregnancies”.
Initially adopted by Parliament in June 2020, the bill was challenged by President Klaus Iohannis at the Constitutional Court, whom the head of state asked to find the bill unconstitutional in its entirety, due to its infringement of children’s rights. The president’s objections targeted the most controversial parts of the bill, namely conditioning the participation of students in these classes on obtaining their parents’ written consent and replacing sexual education with sanitary education. However, the Court rejected his objections, so Iohannis sent the law back to Parliament to be re-examined and changed.
It took a year and a half for the bill to arrive at the final step of the legal process, and to pass the decision-making body after it had been put on the docket and then postponed more than 30 times, but it passed, on June 21, with 224 votes 'for', one 'against', and 49 members abstaining from the vote.
As mentioned earlier, the atmosphere during the meeting was heated, and sparks flew between the opposing political parties. On one side, PSD and AUR MPs accused the president, USR, and some of the more progressive members of PNL of trying to brainwash and sexualize children. On the other side, members of USR furiously brought up statistics related to underage pregnancies in Romania and other serious consequences that an inadequate educational framework has on children.
Here are some of their statements, collected by Agerpres and Europa Liberă:
“We need freedom, not ideology, we need the freedom to choose how we raise our children. We don't need child masturbation, gender ideology, teenage abortions, in a word: sexualization,” said AUR MP Ilie Coleșa.
“We need to talk about sex education now, not "sanitary" education. We need to talk about sex in a country that is number one in underage mothers in the EU, and one of the top countries in domestic violence in the EU. We need to talk about consent because our students don't know what that is. We are not aware of what is happening to our students, who are learning about sex on the internet, through porn, when instead we should have specialized people in schools who should be talking about sex education,” said USR MP Simina Tulbure.
PSD MP Adrian Solomon, who is one of the people who drafted the new bill, made a statement accusing his political rivals of wishing to “introduce some kind of revolutionary programs into schools” which would turn the younger generations into “progressives or neo-Marxists.”
And while PNL MP Mara Calista calmly stated that “The debate on this issue must take place because there are many cases of underage mothers in Romania, sexually transmitted diseases in children under 15, and cases of domestic violence with minors,” AUR leader, George Simion, had the following “effervescent” reaction: “My colleagues from USR have a problem with the title of this law, they really want it to be “sex education”. They didn't hear the word 'sex' enough times when they were young. This is what they want to hear: sex sex sex! Sex sex sex! There! Are you satisfied? It's a sanitary education law and it's a welcome form of this law, seeing as it will only be done in schools after 8th grade, and with parental consent.”
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