On May 22nd 2013 the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Croatia ruled to suspend the implementation of a Health Education (HE) curriculum in elementary and secondary schools. Objections to the curriculum were filed by two faith-based civil society organizations (CSOs), one minor right-wing political party and several citizens, as a part of a fierce Church-led campaign against one of the HE modules entitled Sex/Gender Equality and Responsible Sexual Behavior. This sex education module, together with other three modules (Healthy Living, Prevention of Violent Behavior, and Prevention of Addictions), was introduced to schools in September 2012 as the new HE program. It was the first time in the history of Croatian schooling that comprehensive and systematic teachings about sexuality became an element of official curricula.
During the last two decades only certain components of sex education, mostly information on anatomy and reproductive sexuality, have been included in the biology curriculum. In 2008, an attempt to introduce systematic sex education classes failed after the evaluation study of two pilot programs ‘revealed’ no significant shifts in students’ knowledge. At that time, the Ministry of Science, Education and Sport (MSES) argued that sex education is already present in schools through a so-called “integrative educational model” and that “health education is no less present in Croatian schools than in the EU” (Slobodna Dalmacija, December 18, 2008). This outcome came on the heels of an intense public debate between proponents of abstinence-only approaches and those in favor of a comprehensive model. Therefore, it could be argued that a pressure from religious authorities and their satellite CSOs played an important role in shaping this MSES (in)action.