The far right in Brazil wants to give up sex education in schools

In the 1990s, the HIV pandemic ravaged Brazil. Barely out of the military dictatorship, the country quickly implemented a system of sex education in schools to counteract the HIV problem. Moreover, Brazil has also made progress in the social acceptance of sexual minorities, areas where sexually transmitted diseases made many victims.

Slowly, the country has managed to keep HIV infection under control. The tolerance of sexual minorities has also been improving. Even at low speeds, things were going in the right direction.

With all the inherent problems that came along, Brazil had a sex education system that reached its target audience. But things have changed with President Jair Bolsonaro and the right-wing party coming to power.

The first negative effects were felt immediately. More and more large cities have limited sex education programs in schools. Parents' associations, supported by the ruling party, lobbied for the prohibition of this kind of activity. All in all, it seems that everything that was hard won in the 1990s is about to be lost.

Due to the social and economic climate, Brazil has been and will always be fighting against sexually transmitted diseases. Still difficult access to an acceptable education system and cultural differences in society are obstacles in the way of every adolescent towards a better and healthier life.

A big problem in Brazil is unprotected sex. The use of condoms is not encouraged by the Government, the only ones who succeed in educating young people are the volunteers who deal with sex education in schools. They are getting harder and harder, because schools have no budget for such activities. At the same time, social or group pressure stigmatizes the use of condoms, on the idea that a successful sexual act is the one without protection. In this case, the volunteers' mission becomes twice as difficult.

In recent years, the number of cases of HIV disease has increased a lot in Brazil, mainly due to unprotected sex. As HIV is by far the most dangerous sexual disease, reducing these cases is the No. 1 priority of those still dealing with sex education in Brazil.

What to do? First, the sex education associations in Brazil have two strong enemies: the State and the Church. The chances of these two big institutions suddenly changing their minds are small, but we cannot completely eliminate them.

Greater lobbying and openness to the major implications of the lack of sex education can lead to greater relaxation of conservatives in power. Secondly, the media can successfully fulfill the role of educator, as far as there is interest. Even if the situation now seems out of control, things can improve in the future.