A new inclusive sex education textbook has received mixed opinions in China.
The book, which is published by Beijing Normal University and is reportedly being used in at least 13 schools in the capital city, teaches children about intercourse, homosexuality, sexual abuse and gender equality.
On one page of the book, a pair of students ask their teacher about their female neighbours who live together as a couple, a subject that is still stigmatised and considered taboo in China.
The teacher replies: “The majority of people are heterosexual, but there are some people who feel attracted to the same sex. This is a completely normal phenomenon. We can’t discriminate against them.”
The book has become the centre of debate after a user on social media website Weibo shared photos of the textbook and complained about the “graphic illustrations”, questioning if they were “fake textbooks”.
According to What’s On Weibo, other social media users agreed, labelling the book “vulgar” or even “pornographic”, but many others have come to its defence and praised it for being progressive.
One Weibo user named Didi said: “For children, these textbooks are like a holy book, and when the teacher tells them that women can become police officers, that men can be nurses, it is such an encouragement for them.
“And when you explain to children that homosexuality is normal and that they shouldn’t discriminate against it, it really is a step forward against discrimination.”
As well as teaching children about sex, the book also promotes gender equality, explaining that all professions can be pursued by both men or women, and that it’s normal for a man to take care of a household.
Beijing Normal University explained in a statement: “The book was rigorously designed, tested, and revised. In China, sex has been a taboo issue; parents still do not want to discuss these things with their children, while children are increasingly exposed to inaccurate sexual portrayals in the media.
“We hope children can form their own values based on accurate, scientific information.”