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Video: Paris sex ed exhibition has conservatives hot under collar

Screengrab Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie

An exhibition in Paris aimed at teaching children about love, relationships and sex has upset traditionalists who have collected a 40,000-signature petition to have it stopped.

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Called “Zizi Sexuel” (a Zizi is a childish term for a boy's “private parts”) is proving popular with children – it is aimed at nine to 14-year-olds – and parents who have been flocking to see the exhibition at Paris's Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie.

The interactive and sometimes very graphic show, which aims to explain sex in the five themes of Love, Puberty, Sex, Conception and Prevention, features popular French cartoon characters Nadia and Titeuf.

Those attending the exhibition told FRANCE 24 they were pleased with its frankness.

“The door is open now and it will be easier to answer their questions now,” said one happy parent.

Conservative lobby group SOS Education is not so sure.

The group says it has no political affiliation but is part of a growing traditionalist movement that has emerged in France, notably amid opposition to the legalisation of gay marriage which went ahead last year.

“I don't think showing an ejaculating penis to an eight year old is the right way to talk to them about physical affection,” a spokesman told FRANCE 24.

Exhibition curator Maud Gouy insisted the criticism was misplaced.

“Society has changed,” she said. “The exhibition has proved itself. These criticisms sometimes focus on one single element completely out of [the exhibition’s] context.”

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