Why sex education matters

A year-long campaign is calling for good quality sex education lessons that explain more than just the biology of puberty and reproduction. This is from the Guardian…

Sex education has mattered to a lot of people for a long time. This year, the Sex Education Forum hosted by the National Children’s Bureau, celebrates 25 years since its launch. SEF was born with eight members, including three religious organisations. Journalists were sceptical that we would agree on much and certainly not about teaching topics such as homosexuality and abortion. Teachers, however, responded enthusiastically, expressing their feelings of isolation and frustration at the lack of support for their work.

Over the years people have argued that sex education must be more than just the biology of puberty and reproduction, and must look at the real life context too – ie relationships. So SEF and others have called for compulsory sex and relationships education (SRE) to be taught to all children and young people from primary schools upwards.

One young person told us sex education matters because “without it, we’d still be giggling uncomfortably whenever anything to do with sex is mentioned”. The word “sex” seems to be a problem, but it shouldn’t be. Sexuality is an intrinsic part of being human and sexual development is a normal part of growing up. Some primary schools call the topic “growing up” and this can be more meaningful to young children and more comfortable for adults. It doesn’t matter what it is called as long as it is happening, and by “it” we mean learning about family, friendships, staying safe, healthy relationships, puberty, sexual health and more.

Sex education matters in primary schools because four-year-olds ask where babies come from, five-year-olds browse the internet and six-year-olds want to be popular with their friends. Sex education matters at home because children want their parents to be the first people to talk to them about growing up, sex and relationships. Yet many parents say they lack confidence to answer their children’s questions frankly. Sex education matters in secondary schools especially because this is a time when young people come under new pressures from their peers and are reaching for more independence and considering their own views on love, romance and what is acceptable or unacceptable for them.

Today, the consensus of support for SRE is bigger and broader than ever before. SEF represents diverse voices from more than 75 religious, family, youth, disability, health and education organisations. All our member organisations believe sex education matters. For example, Kids, a charity working with young disabled people, joined SEF because clients said their experiences of SRE were “too late” and they were “talked at rather than listened to”.

More at:  Why sex education matters

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