Sex Ed Matters…
From this November the Sex Education Forum (SEF) celebrates 25 glorious years, having been formally launched in 1987. Over those last 25 years SEF has been instrumental in a number of key changes that have improved the provision of sex and relationships education. However the loss of statutory PSHE education in the wash-up prior to the last General Election has created a vacuum that some have used as an opportunity to try and chip away at sector confidence.
SEF therefore feels that both the sector and the wider community need a timely reminder of what our members have been saying for years; and to do this we are launching our ‘Sex Ed Matters’ Social Media Campaign to show that Sex Education does matter. We believe that all children and young people are entitled to quality sex and relationships education that equips children and young people with the information, skills and values they need to have safe, fulfilling and enjoyable relationships and to take responsibility for their sexual health and well being.
Why ‘Sex Ed’ matters
Over the years many practitioners have recognised the fact that sex education is more than biology, it’s about relationships too, and so many organisations, including SEF, have started calling it Sex and Relationships Education (SRE), or Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) or indeed Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE), or for younger age groups; Growing Up, to name but a few variations. In reality it doesn’t matter what it is called as long as it is happening. The general public, including the media, often call it sex education and it is important that we make sure that everyone understands what we mean when we say ‘Sex Education Matters’.
Recognising that sex education starts in the home, and that children will start learning about the names of body parts, where babies come from and about what a family is, way before school, is the first step to understanding what we actually mean by sex education. Most children will know that there are differences between boys and girls, mummies and daddies, and so on. Some will pick up messages from their family, others will be from cartoons, TV programmes, stories and films, some will be positive, others counterproductive, but they will all be building a picture for that small child about what boys and girls do or are expected to do and behave in our society, towards each other and themselves.
‘Sex Ed Matters’ because it is more than the biology of reproduction; it is about relationships, about emotions, and growing up. Humans are not robots, we do not just function on a biological level, we function on feelings too, feelings that drive us to engage with each other, to develop friendships, bonds with other humans, that, as we got older, may develop intimately into sexual relationships. Young people want to learn about relationships, they want to know how you show people you love them, without having sex, without the consequences of an STI or a unwanted pregnancy, and to know that when they do make that decision that there are services that can help and support them without breaking their confidentiality, that believes in them as young people to be making the right decisions for them and to make sure they are offered support if they’re being pressured, or abused or exploited.
So when we talk about ‘Sex Ed Matters’ we’re not just talking about sexual activity; we’re talking about gender, we’re talking about biological cells, we’re talking about evolution, we’re talking about relationships, negotiation, consent, puberty, families, friends, and much, much more, and there are very few people out there that wouldn’t want children to be taught about sex without it being in the context of relationships to keep children and young people safe.
See our website for why our members say ‘Sex Ed Matters’ or leave a comment below.