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03/02/2014Swiss to vote on banning sex education for under nines
Swiss voters will decide whether to ban compulsory sex education for children under nine after conservative groups mustered enough signatures to force a plebiscite, the authorities said Monday.
The federal administration said campaigners had gathered more than the 100,000 signatures of voters required to put their measure to the public for approval.
The campaign coalition -- whose goal is the "protection against sexualisation in kindergartens and primary schools" -- handed in its petition in December and the government is now obliged to set a date for a vote.
Referendums are the bedrock of Switzerland's system of direct democracy, with voters called out several times a year to voice their opinion on a host of issues at local through to federal level.
The measure stipulates that sex education is the business of a child's parents and not the school system
While it would allows classes on avoiding the risk of sexual abuse, it would ban sex education for anyone below the age of nine, while such lessons would be optional for children up to the age of 12.
For older children, compulsory lessons would be permitted, but they would be required to be given by biology teachers and focus on "reproduction and human development".
No pupil would be required to follow a class that strayed beyond the basically biological to address such themes as the social aspects of sexuality.
The initiative was the brainchild of a group of parents in the northern city of Basel that successfully forced schools to drop the "Sexbox" education kit.
The kits included accessories such as soft-toy penises, which the parents' group said was tantamount to handing out pornography to children, who needed protecting against sexualisations at a young age.
The referendum campaign was reinforced by politicians from the right-wing populist Swiss People's Party, the largest single grouping in the country's parliament.
© 2014 AFP
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