Romanian parliament passes controversial bill that turns ‘sex education’ into ‘health education’

After two years of debate between political parties, the Romanian Chamber of Deputies passed a bill concerning sex education classes in schools.

However, the new law allows the teaching of sex education only to students in grade 8 or higher, and only with the consent of their parents or guardians. Moreover, the bill does not directly refer to these classes as sex education classes, but uses the term “health education” – a decision that caused a serious dispute in the Chamber of Deputies.

The bill is an amendment to article 46, line i) of Law 272/2004, which states that children must be the beneficiaries of “the systematic offer of life education programs in schools, including sex education for children to avoid contracting sexually transmitted diseases, as well as underage pregnancies”.

Initially passed by parliament in June 2020, the bill was challenged by President Klaus Iohannis in the Constitutional Court, which the head of state asked to declare the bill unconstitutional in its entirety, due to its violation of children’s rights. The president’s objections targeted the most controversial parts of the bill, namely making students’ attendance conditional on obtaining written consent from their parents and replacing sex education with health education. However, the Court overruled his objections, so Iohannis sent the law back to Parliament to be reconsidered and amended.

It took a year and a half for the bill to reach the final stage of the judicial process, and pass through the decision-making body after being put on the docket and then postponed more than 30 times, but it passed, on 21 June, with 224 votes “for”, one “against” and 49 members abstained during the vote.

As mentioned earlier, the atmosphere at the meeting was heated and sparks flew between the opposing political parties. On the one hand, PSD and AUR MPs accused the President, the USR, and some of the more progressive members of the PNL of trying to brainwash and sexualize children. On the other side, the members of the USR furiously spoke about the statistics relating to early 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 ‘health’ education. We need to talk about sex in a country that is number one for underage mothers in the EU and one of the top countries for domestic violence in the EU. We have to talk about consent because our students don’t know what it is. We are not aware of what is happening to our students, who are learning about sex on the internet, through pornography, when instead we should have specialist people in schools who should be talking about sex education,” the MP said. USR Simina Tulbure.

PSD MP Adrian Solomon, who was among those drafting the new bill, issued a statement accusing his political rivals of wanting to “introduce some kind of revolutionary programs in schools” that would turn the younger generations into “progressives or Neo-Marxists”. .”

And while PNL MP Mara Calista calmly said 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 chief George Simion had the following “effervescent” reaction: “My colleagues at the USR have a problem with the title of this law, they really want this or “sex education”. They didn’t hear the word “sex” often enough when they were young. That’s what they want to hear: sex sex sex! Sex sex sex! The! Are you satisfied? This is a health education law and it is a welcome form of this law, as it will only be done in schools after grade 8, and with parental consent.

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Helen D. Jessen