Campaigners against sex education in primary schools have stopped collecting signatures after just one month. The initiative collapsed on a technicality when one of the committee members was revealed to be a child sex offender.
The campaign, under the slogan “Protection against sexualisation in kindergarten and primary school”, had until October 2013 to collect 100,000 signatures, which would have forced a nationwide vote on the issue.
The group particularly objects to the use of teaching aids for children, which include plush or soft-toy models of sexual organs. The popular initiative will be resubmitted at a later date.
Spearheaded by the rightwing Swiss People’s Party, the campaign also has support from centre-right Christian Democrat and Radical parliamentarians.
One of the chief initiators of the campaign, from a Basel-based parents’ group which helped drive the controversy over the sexual education programme, was revealed in media reports in April to have sexually abused a minor in the 1990s.
Now a 60-year-old father of four young children, the man was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison in 1996 for his abuse of a young girl beginning when she was 12.
The man’s name had already been printed in the official state publication which lists information about popular initiatives. Because no details of an initiative may be changed after publication, his resignation rendered the initiative invalid.
To clear the way to launch a new initiative, the committee had to wrap up the current one, which they did by handing in just one signature on May 16, the Federal Chancellery confirmed.
The text of the soon-to-reappear initiative argues that sexual education is the responsibility of parents and that the topic should not be introduced in school before the age of nine. However, it does allow for “stay safe” information to be taught in kindergarten to prevent child abuse, as long as it does not include the mechanics of sexual acts.
The initiative calls for obligatory classes on sexual reproduction to be introduced only after the age of 12 within the framework of biology classes.
swissinfo.ch and agencies