PROMOTING A COMPREHENSIVE EMOTIONAL AND SEXUAL EDUCATION PROGRAM IN HIGHER EDUCATION. A SURVEY CONDUCTED AMONG STUDENTS OF A UNIVERSITY IN THE FRENCH SPEAKING COMMUNITY OF BELGIUM
University of Mons (BELGIUM)
About this paper:
Conference name: 15th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 8-9 March, 2021
Location: Online Conference
Abstract:Since 2012, comprehensive emotional and sexual education is mandatory in kindergartens, primary and secondary schools of the French-Speaking Community of Belgium (Communauté française de Belgique, 2012). Schools have to implement this education through animations, or projects, focused on varied topics, depending on age and local needs: emotions, consent, puberty, sexism, gender identity, sexual orientation, contraception, sexually transmitted infections or sexual abuse. The aim of comprehensive emotional and sexual education is to train future responsible citizens and to enhance their personal development through well-being and health. However, there is no obligation to organize such a program in higher education.
In this study, we conducted a survey with the students of the University of Mons in Belgium in order to question the usefulness of a comprehensive emotional and sexual education in a university. To better understand the adequacy of such a program, we collected data about the information they received during mandatory schooling. We also tried to evaluate their knowledge about sexually transmitted infections and surveyed the types of violence or discrimination they face in the university. Results were then cross-analysed by gender. Our sample consists of 138 respondents: 114 women, 23 men and one transgender person. Almost all of them (99%) received some general information about sexuality during their mandatory schooling. However, some topics were massively mentioned by students such as sexual anatomy (92% of respondents), human reproduction (84%), contraceptive methods (84%), puberty (77%) and sexually transmitted infections (71%). Very few students received information about sexual desire and pleasure (2% of respondents); pornography (5%); sexual and reproductive rights (6%); gender identities (8%); sexist, homophobic, transphobic and sexual cyberviolence (less than10%). In addition, their knowledge was, for various important topics, clearly approximate. None of our male respondents told us they had experienced any forms of discrimination or any kind of violence. However, one-quarter of our female subjects spoke about the discrimination and violence they had to face, including sexism (18%), sexual abuse (5%), sexual cyberviolence (4%), sexist cyberviolence (3%), discrimination based on gender identity (1%) and sexual orientation (1%). Considering our results, it appears that not all students received a clear, complete, and satisfactory information during their mandatory schooling. In addition, discrimination and violence against women are still experienced by students at the University. Therefore, we think it would be relevant to provide an additional program of comprehensive emotional and sexual education intended for Higher education.
Keywords: Higher Education, Comprehensive Emotional and Sexual Education, Discrimination, Violence.