The Denial of Children’s Sexual Agency in the Convention on the Rights of the Child

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The ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (crc) has long been hailed as a major event in the realisation of children’s human rights, combining the need for protection with a desire to grant agency through recognition of the evolving capacities of the child. Yet the idea of children’s agency as articulated in the crc excluded sexual identity and expression, and ushered in an incomplete emancipation for lgbtiq children; children who are gender non-conforming; and children whose sexual expression otherwise conflicts with heterosexuality – hereafter queer children. I argue that while the crc granted children agency in terms of rights to expression, thought and conscience, it denied children sexual agency. Queer children’s political agency is intimately connected to sexual identity and agency, because unlike their heterosexual counterparts, queer children’s identity and expression is sexualised while, at the same time, they are excluded from adult, identity-based movements.