Parental authority made a comeback in three UN resolutions about children this week, something thought impossible just a year ago.
There were audible gasps from the floor of the UN conference room on Monday morning as the vote tally of the UN third committee appeared on the overhead screen. The vote was close. Parental guidance in sex education unexpectedly won the day, with the United States voting in favor.
African nations and the small island state of Saint Lucia orchestrated a successful volley of hostile amendments to three resolutions calling for sex education for young children. The Africans were adamant that any resolution committing states or the UN system to providing sex education should include a caveat on “appropriate direction and guidance from parents and legal guardians.”
Saint Lucia was the first to introduce the amendment. It proposed parental guidance language in paragraphs about sex education last Friday in a resolution about girls and one about adolescents and youth, defined by the UN as beginning at 10 years of age.
“Parents and the family play an important role in guiding children,” the delegate said in the General Assembly. She said the original language in the resolution was “not adequate” because it relegated the role of parents to that of equal partners with young people, health providers and educators. She pointed to the UN treaty on the rights of the child as recognizing the rights of parents to direct the education of their children.
While the amendment failed in the resolution on youth, the very same amendment to identical paragraphs about sex education was adopted in three other resolutions on the girl child, the rights of the child, and girls with disabilities, introduced by the African Group in the latter two. Gasps gave way to applause with each amendment adopted.