Sex Education in Thailand

Thai researcher Wichit Wongwarithip asserts that Thailand does not deliver on sex education. It fails with regard to gender diversity, gender equality, and safe sex. "Society tends to think that 'good morals' are the solutions to all problems and that Thai culture is the best," said Wichit. Thai sex education rests on the bedrock of the traditional values of heterosexuality and patriarchy. Instead of encouraging safe sex, Thai sex education tells schoolgirls to abstain until they are ready to form a family. Some Thai textbooks characterise masturbation as deviant behaviour and recommend meditation to suppress sexual desire. Jiraphon Arunakon, Director of the Gender Variation Clinic, says that sex education as taught in Thailand lags behind or ignores scientific research. The International Classification of Diseases (ICD) removed homosexuality from the "disease" classification in 1990 and Thailand's Ministry of Public Health asserted in 2002 that homosexuality is not a mental disorder. Parit Chiwarak, an education activist from Education for Liberation Network, says that students read their sex ed textbooks in order to pass exams, but do not take them seriously. "We all know that Thai textbooks are...sexist....I don't think that students nowadays perceive LGBT people as deviants. Students these days are not stupid. It's self-destructive to write things that oppose ordinary people's belief like this....", stated Parit.

Meanwhile, Thai sex education has done little to decrease Thailand's high teenage pregnancy rate. In 2014, about 334 babies were born daily to mothers aged between 15 to 19. Teen births in Thailand have been on the rise. Of every 1,000 live births, 54 are from teen mothers aged 15-19, higher than in the US and 10 times higher than Singapore. The number of live births by Thai teenage mothers aged 15-18 increased 43 percent between 2000 and 2011. The reasons for this may be societal norms. "Women are told to protect their virginity but Thai men who have multiple sexual encounters are seen as cool," said Visa Benjamano, a commissioner at the National Human Rights Council (NHRC)