Conservatives seek to implement parental veto over sex education in 13 states

Organizations behind the parental veto have previously protested against same-sex marriage 

Conservatives seek to implement parental veto over sex education in 13 states
Congress asked the National Human Rights Commission to contest the parental veto at the Supreme Court - Photo: File photo
English 11/08/2020 13:25 Newsroom & Agencies Mexico City Alexis Ortiz/EL UNIVERSAL, AP Actualizada 13:36

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Conservative political parties and organizations in 13 states proposed an education reform to implement a parental veto, a mechanism that would allow parents to authorize what can or cannot be taught at school. It aims to limit topics such as gender equality, sex education, and reproductive health

Although the Interior Ministry, the National Human Rights Commission, and international organizations spoke against the parental veto, more states are joining the initiative.

Conservative political parties PES and PAN are pushing for the implementation of the veto in Chiapas, Chihuahua, Mexico City, Guanajuato, Querétaro, Veracruz, Puebla, Aguascalientes, and Nuevo León. 

The Nuevo León Congress rejected the bill. In Aguascalientes, the local Human Rights Commission challenged the education reforms published by the state government. 

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Conservative organization National Front for the Family (Frente Nacional por la Familia) and others are pressuring state Congresses to discuss the proposal in Baja California, Oaxaca, Tamaulipas, and Yucatán.

Experts have warned that allowing parents to approve the content taught at school would result in conservatives banning gender equality, sex education, and reproductive health. These restrictions would result in a surge in violence against women, teenage pregnancy, sexual abuse, and homophobia. 

Back to the dark ages

José Lugo Rodríguez, who works for Save The Children México, says the parental veto would be a huge step back for children. 

The expert explains that since sexuality is a taboo for Mexican society, school is an ideal place for students to learn about these topics.

Moreover, the consequences of eliminating sex education and gender studies at school could have catastrophic results, especially since the country registered 154,299 teenage pregnancies in 2018.

Regarding gender-based violence and femicide, around 10 women are murdered in Mexico every day.

Although authorities don’t release official numbers regarding sexual abuse and homophobia, the National Hate Crimes Against LGBT People Observatory registered 65 murders in 2019.

Recommended: Child sex abuse reaches alarming levels in Mexico​​​​​​​

Political opportunism

Mexican political parties drew inspiration from Spanish party VOX, which proposed the so-called parental veto so that parents are informed about gender identity, feminism, and diversity classes.

Taking politics into consideration, Juan Martín Pérez, the head of NGO Network for the Rights of Children (Redim), believes the PES and PAN may be pushing the proposal to gain votes in the 2021 election. 

Pérez said the “parental veto is an excuse to confront the Mexican government institutions, to make their homophobic, misogynistic, and adult-centered ideas more visible because in our country there’s a lot of people who think this way. This is the method used by VOX to win votes.”

The children’s rights activist and expert said the “parental PIN” is similar to the proposal made by the PVEM years ago when it proposed the death penalty, something that won the party some votes.  

Last week, Congress asked the National Human Rights Commission to contest the parental veto at the Supreme Court because it violates children’s human rights

In July, the Mexican federal government warned five states against proposals to allow a kind of parental veto over school curriculum that deals with gender issues and sex.

Legislators in five states put forward proposals favored by conservatives that would require schools to let parents pull their children from classes where gender identification, sex, birth control, or other sensitive issues are discussed.

Legislators in the states of Chihuahua, Nuevo León, Aguascalientes, Querétaro, and Mexico City put forward the proposals, dubbed “Parental PIN” bills in reference to codes used to control what kids watch on TV.

The Interior Ministry and several other government departments said in a statement that the proposals would be unconstitutional and violate children’s right to an education, and strongly suggested they would be struck down by the Supreme Court if passed.

The Chihuahua bill proposes that parents must be given at least 30 days’ notice of classes “that would run against their ethical, moral or religious convictions,” and be allowed to pull their kids from those classes.

The federal government argued that children have a constitutional right to know and be educated about certain things, including sex education.

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