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NGO urges Korea to revise sex education guidelines

South Korea should revise its sex education guidelines for schools to include lessons about homosexuality and other sexual minorities, Human Rights Watch said Tuesday.

The Education Ministry’s sex education guidelines ― distributed to schools across the country in March ― does not include any descriptions about homosexuals because it said “homosexuality is not common in terms of sexual orientation.” It was a step back from the ministry’s original position of banning any education related to homosexuality, but still sparked complaints from some local schools and civic groups.

The guidelines are expected to be discriminatory against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, the group said.

“These guidelines enshrine discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity,” said Graeme Reid, LGBT rights director of the NGO. “Excluding LGBT people in the curriculum sends a pejorative, intolerant message to the youth of South Korea and violates basic rights to information, health, and education.”

HMR claimed the guidelines “contradict the country’s leadership role at the United Nations,” where it voted for resolutions against violence and discrimination on sexual orientation and gender identity.

It also raised suspicion that the Korean government was pressured to exclude information on sexual minorities by local religious groups.

The lack of protection for teenage sexual minorities has been a hot-button issue recently in Korea. About 45.7 percent of sexual minorities aged 18 or younger said they had attempted suicide, while 53.8 percent had injured themselves, according to last year’s survey by the Korean Society of Law and Policy on Sexual Orientation and Gender Inequality.

Moon Yong-rin, a conservative former education superintendent of Seoul, attempted to exclude a student rights ordinance in a clause that mandated the protection of students who are sexual minorities. His attempt was thwarted after he lost the position to liberal Cho Hi-yeon in last year’s election.

Last month, conservative civic groups sabotaged Gangwon Provincial Office of Education’s public hearing on the student rights ordinance, claiming the ordinance “encourages sexual corruption such as homosexuality.”

By Yoon Min-sik (minsikyoon@heraldcorp.com)
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