A new inclusive sex education textbook has received mixed opinions in China.
The book, which is published by Beijing Normal University and is reportedly being used in at least 13 schools in the capital city, teaches children about intercourse, homosexuality, sexual abuse and gender equality.
On one page of the book, a pair of students ask their teacher about their female neighbours who live together as a couple, a subject that is still stigmatised and considered taboo in China.
The teacher replies: “The majority of people are heterosexual, but there are some people who feel attracted to the same sex. This is a completely normal phenomenon. We can’t discriminate against them.”
The book has become the centre of debate after a user on social media website Weibo shared photos of the textbook and complained about the “graphic illustrations”, questioning if they were “fake textbooks”.
According to What’s On Weibo, other social media users agreed, labelling the book “vulgar” or even “pornographic”, but many others have come to its defence and praised it for being progressive.
One Weibo user named Didi said: “For children, these textbooks are like a holy book, and when the teacher tells them that women can become police officers, that men can be nurses, it is such an encouragement for them.
“And when you explain to children that homosexuality is normal and that they shouldn’t discriminate against it, it really is a step forward against discrimination.”
As well as teaching children about sex, the book also promotes gender equality, explaining that all professions can be pursued by both men or women, and that it’s normal for a man to take care of a household.
Beijing Normal University explained in a statement: “The book was rigorously designed, tested, and revised. In China, sex has been a taboo issue; parents still do not want to discuss these things with their children, while children are increasingly exposed to inaccurate sexual portrayals in the media.
“We hope children can form their own values based on accurate, scientific information.”
China introduces new inclusive sex education describes sexuality in the cutest way
A new Chinese sex education policy is surprisingly inclusive, including sections about same-sex relationships, sexuality and gender equality.
The move to update the country’s curriculum for primary school students has left some parents unhappy.
The new curriculum, students of various ages learn about gender equality. Examples include expressing that men can make great nurses and kindergarten teachers.
It goes further, however; to teach the children that some people are in same-sex relationships. It reads: “Love is a beautiful thing.”
“A minority of people experience attraction to members of the same sex,” reads one section.
But the textbook does not only define sexual orientations as gay or straight, it points out that people are bisexual too.
“Did you guys hear about the celebrity that came out as bisexual?” one girl says in the book.
Her friend responds: “Didn’t Teacher tell us? Some people like both spicy and sweet. There’s nothing to be shocked about.”
Older students, in grade 5, are taught about sexually transmitted infections, as well as HIV, and how to protect themselves using condoms.
The advice applies for both same-sex and opposite-sex couples.
One strip shows a man coming home to a meal cooked by his husband each night, to help kids understand that those in same-sex relationships might want to get married.
As well as equality, the new curriculum also includes standard issues like how babies are conceived and born.
The pictures include the captions “Daddy and mommy love each other”, “Daddy’s penis enters mommy’s vagina”, “Daddy’s sperm enters mommy’s uterus”, and so on.
Another section includes inappropriate touching, stating that sexual predators can be male or female.
Some parents have taken to social media to complain about the content and the illustrations of the textbooks.
“Is it reasonable for a textbook to be compiled like this? I myself blush just looking at,” one mother wrote. while others complained about the content on sexual intercourse.
But LGBT groups, other parents, medical professionals and the Chinese media have all applauded the move, saying it is “long overdue”.
“Giving our children more knowledge about sex will help them better protect themselves in the future,” one user of the site Weibo argues, according to Shanghaiist “Finally, sex education in China has caught up with the rest of the world!” adds another.