Students seek sex ed overhaul

Students meet in the University Union to discuss plans for overhaul of outdated LGBT+ excluding curriculum.

An enthusiastic group met at the Union on Thursday night to discuss materials from the Sexual Wellbeing Foundation, a student charity aimed at reforming the curriculum.

Currently, the approved curriculum focuses on STDs, pregnancy prevention and marriage. Home taught, free school, academy, and primary school students do not have to receive sex education. The curriculum’s core is providing “effective advice on contraception and on delaying sexual activity, [which will] reduce the incidence of unwanted pregnancies”.

There was a unanimous feeling among the audience that they had been let down by this system, and that their education had left them ill-prepared to navigate relationships and sexuality, particularly with a view to enjoying them.

SWF founder Olive Barton also sees sex education reform as a means to preventing domestic violence. The materials discussed at the meeting focused on providing early warning signs for domestic violence, and on recognising controlling, and coercive actions. SWF also have plans for materials covering LGBT+.

At present, though required to espouse marriage as the ideal relationship, state schools are not required to promote marriage as defined by the Government since “no school, or individual teacher is under a duty to support, promote or endorse marriage of same sex couples”. Schools are only required to talk about sexual orientation if asked “appropriate questions…there should be no direct promotion of sexual orientation”.

Even if asked, schools are not required to give information on Transgender or Intersex. For Intersex, the American Journal of Biology estimates that 2% of births had some deviation from solely male or female sex characteristics, they also estimate that around 1 in 1000 have  elements of both male and female sex organs.

For Trans youth, the situation is particularly dire. Research from the Universities of Brunel, Worcester and London South Bank indicates almost half of under-26 transgender individuals had attempted suicide. Providing education on LGBT+ and access to support services remain at the discretion of individual schools and teachers.

While support is growing for more pragmatic relationships education, currently no party has committed to including LGBT+ education in the curriculum.   

Edmund Goldrick 

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