In Bulgarian schools, the topic of sex education is contentious and often even avoided, leading to a lack of proper knowledge and understanding of sexuality among young people. An innovative research project, Adolescents’ Perceptions of Healthy Relationships tried to address this gap by training adolescents as peer researchers to gather information on how young Bulgarians perceived their relationships with others in their community. This led to a study revealing that young Bulgarians felt the need for better sexual education and the creation of ‘safe spaces’ where young people can discuss sex, sexuality, and relationships. The youth peer researchers then became advocates who initiated a number of activities to teach themselves and their peers about healthy relationships.
There is a growing conservative trend in Bulgaria where it has become more and more difficult to lobby and talk about matters concerning sexuality. Despite of this, the Young Advocates are currently organizing events and ‘safe spaces’ where they discuss freely and openly with their peers about the challenges they face and questions they have concerning sexuality and relationships.
We are very proud of what the young people are doing, demanding proper knowledge and understanding of sexuality for themselves and their peers.
In light of the successes in this youth-led peer research project, ICDI and its partners Institute of Social Studies (ISS) and Animus Bulgaria have published a post on Bliss, the ISS Blog on Global Development and Social Justice.