Life skills classes in Lithuania ignite controversy: Accusations of being a “Trojan horse” for genderist education?

Lithuania has introduced a life skills programme for schoolchildren starting this year, covering topics such as safe traffic, emotional well-being, and sex education.

The lessons, aimed at pupils aged six to 16, aim to provide social and emotional education, prevention of drug use, bullying, violence and suicide, and offer sex education, health education, first aid and safety training. However, some conservative parent groups and politicians are concerned that the programme promotes premarital sex and LGBTQ+ tolerance.

Conservative groups in Lithuania, including the Lithuanian Family Movement, oppose the life skills curriculum, saying it will be a “Trojan horse” to teach genderism to students. They argue that the literature and experts recommended in the curriculum are oriented towards LGBTQ+ perspectives,

raising concerns about the impact of these ideas on students.

Opponents of the programme in Lithuania have spread false claims on social media, including the misleading claim that the curriculum will teach four-year-olds about masturbation and instruct older pupils on making contraceptives for oral sex.

Ignas Vėgėlė, a lawyer and politician known as an opponent of the COVID-19 restrictions, recently claimed that the life skills curriculum will teach pupils how to make contraceptives, referring to a screenshot circulated on social networks.

these statements have sparked debate about the content of the curriculum.

Daiva Šukytė, one of the authors of the life skills curriculum, explained that the table in the screenshot is from a teacher’s guide and is not intended for pupils. She said that teachers are expected to familiarise themselves with such information and are encouraged to prepare lessons by referring to official guidelines and organisations to answer students’ questions but it is not a part of the curriculum.

As per Lithuanian Education Ministry, sex education accounts for approximately 10-15% of the life skills classes.

According to Agnė Liucilė Andriuškevičienė, advisor to the Minister of Education, the programme aims to equip pupils with essential skills for a safe and healthy life. She added that in the context of sex education, pupils will receive age-appropriate guidance on self-exploration, healthy relationships and setting boundaries.

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