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Dispatches from CDP 2012: Why Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights are Not “Anti-Family”

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Written by Yolí Sánchez Neyoy for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

Cross-posted with permission from The Watchdog.

To see all our coverage of the 2012 Commission on Population and Development, click here.

I am a 29-year-old woman from Mexico, and I’m here at the Commission on Population and Development working to promote young people’s sexual and reproductive health and rights. I come from a family which I love, and from which I have received a lot of support for all my endeavors. I am a strong believer that family, in all its forms, is an important unit of society, and that it can play a strong role in educating young people and adolescents. I am also a strong believer that individuals’ human rights should be respected.

I do believe however that youth and adolescents' access to comprehensive sexuality education should not be limited by or to their parents. Why? Many young people do not have a supportive family, their family may not know how to or want to answer young people’s questions, or worse, they may have the wrong information that will put young people at risk.

Some young people may be mistreated by their parents for bringing up controversial topics, regarding sexuality and health; how does THAT help? Additionally, adolescents will not ask questions if they are not in a safe environment, and some families don’t always make this easy. These are questions they need and have the right to have answers on, and their health and wellbeing is at stake.

I agree that the family teaches important skills like communication, how to relate to others, and social responsibility, but not all families do this. And not enabling universal access to comprehensive sexuality education, information and services excludes youth and adolescents who are already at risk. Just like health care, just like vaccines, just like schooling: our parents’ cannot provide full coverage and protection, so we seek access and support elsewhere too. Why is sexuality education so different?

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