International Youth Coalition Members Challenge United Nations Approach to Youth Sexuality

By Lauren Funk

NEW YORK (C-FAM) Members of the International Youth Coalition are voicing their disapproval of the rights-based approach to youth issues and the promotion of sexual license presented at the recent United Nations High Level Meeting on Youth.

“Just as we have laws prohibiting youth from using drugs, it would seem that we also have a responsibility to protect youth from engaging in sexual license, ” reflected IYc member Savanna Buckner. Buckner made her comments after attending a discussion hosted by UNFPA, which asserted that youth have the right to sexual education and to make their own autonomous decisions regarding their sexuality without consent of their parents.

“As a young person, it is extremely disturbing to witness …certain UN forces working to isolate youth from their families and particularly their parents. For its education policies to be just, the UN must accept that focusing on the family as the fundamental unit of society and on parents as primary educators is not outdated and does not overlook the individuality of each person,” Buckner told the Friday Fax.

Buckner also commented on the rejection of abstinence by the proponents of sexuality education. “By assuming abstinence is impractical, these organizations discourage youth from practicing self-restraint and effectively make contraceptives the only ‘choice.’”

Antoine Kazzi, a member of the IYc from Australia, challenged the prevalent misrepresentation of sexual and reproductive health matters as universal human rights. “Sovereign nations are being misled into thinking they have to recognize and protect sexual and reproductive health ‘rights’ in their territories… [and] that these ‘rights’ are already recognized as universal human rights; and organs of the UN are being used to perpetuate this lie,” Kazzi said.

Kazzi noted the conflict these sexual ‘rights’ have with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. “These ‘rights’ encompass the right to have an induced abortion, which is the deliberate ending of a child’s life. The ending of this vulnerable life offends the Universal Declaration of Human Rights… [including] the right to life.”

Maria Lizaur, another IYc member, recounted her frustration after presenting the merits of abstinence and family values programs in reducing HIV infections and unplanned pregnancies at one of the conference’s panel discussions. “Instead of [the panelists] encouraging dialogue about what is in fact good for the youth, and about what it is that the youth wants, we [who presented this information] were simply dismissed as “too young” to understand. It is tremendously sad that there were individuals and organizations at the conference who refused to listen to the voice of young individuals seeking to share ideas that expressed pro-life and pro-family solutions.”

Though voicing frustration with those at the United Nations Youth Meeting who supported autonomous freedom of sexual engagement for young people, the IYc members are hopeful that, through true dialogue, their peers and elders alike will heed their calls for support of the family and increased personal responsibility on the part of youth in matters of sexuality.

More observations by the members of the International Youth Coalition can be found at their blog, IYc Vox.

“Lauren Funk writes for C-FAM. This article first appeared in the Friday Fax, an internet report published weekly by C-FAM (Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute), a New York and Washington DC-based research institute (http://www.c-fam.org/). This article appears with permission.

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