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Comprehensive sexual education: the first international training for teachers in Palermo

A Comprehensive Sexual Education (CSE) is not just about sex. It is about relationships, gender, puberty, consent, and sexual and reproductive health, for all young people

In the last years, the importance of a comprehensive approach towards sexual education for young people has been firmly established both at European and international level.

However, European data and figures clearly show how this topic has still to face many challenges and difficulties before being accepted from the collectively and being no longer considered a “taboo”.

Currently, seven European countries, among which Italy, have still not introduced sexual education as mandatory within the school environment. Some critical issues also emerge in those countries where sexuality education lessons are included in the school curriculum and where often the teaching methods to not favour a proper understanding by the pupils: a lot of young people seem not aware of the fundamental issues of sexuality education, notably regarding sexual and reproductive health and rights (European Parliament, 2013).

It is in this context that we are developing ISEX – Integral Sexual Education and Empowerment in Schools, our new project focused on the promotion of comprehensive sexual education. Resorting to non-formal activities, trainings and events designed for high schools, ISEX partners assist teachers in a comprehensive learning path and in the acquisition of tools and of socio-emotional competences to discuss topics related to sexuality and affection, by promoting a healthy lifestyle and by preventing any form of violence and gender discrimination in class. Among the other objectives, ISEX aims at starting an intergenerational dialogue on the above-mentioned topics: besides teachers and students, also parents, grandparents, and families will be involved in the project.

Within the ISEX framework, an international training just ended, that reunited the project’s partners and teachers from Italy, Hungary, Greece, United Kingdom, and Netherlands. The aim was laying the groundwork for future local training on how teaching a comprehensive sexual education and how addressing intimacy issues, regulations, and challenges regarding relationships and sexuality. Moreover, the teacher mentoring programme was introduced: ISEX experts will provide theoretical and practical support to the teachers who will start implementing the activities within their classes.

Hosted by the Cantieri Culturali alla Zisa in Palermo, trainers Dora Djamila Mester and Attila Andics brought forward practical activities to reinforce the participants’ self-reflection skills, by resorting to innovative and participative methodologies.

Relying on the participants’ personal and professional experiences, we have addressed critical issues such as consent, bodies, identities, and relations.

During the training we had the chance to watch the movie “Edoné: La sindrome di Eva” written and directed by the collective Making (of) Love, a group of eight young adults whose aim is to express the different shades of sexuality, by starting from listening each one’s own body and feelings.

The participants enthusiastically welcomed the training week, and they took part and appreciated all the proposed activities.

“It fills me with hope for the future to have a group like this together and notice how eager people are to make society a better and safer place for everyone”.
Participant’s comment

There were many opportunities for the exchange of ideas and opinions, notably regarding the different approaches towards a comprehensive sexual education in the different countries, the meaning that the role of “sex educator” can assume, and the difficulties tied to this path.

About the project

ISEX – Integral Sexual Education and Empowerment in Schools is co-financed by the Erasmus+ Programme of European Union under KA2 – Cooperation for innovation and the exchange of good practices, Strategic Partnerships for school education.


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