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Sex Education in the UK

As a woman and a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, sex education for me was unhelpful to say the least. In fact, the only sex education I experienced in my Methodist school was in GCSE Biology, where we learnt about the science behind the different sexes and nothing more. Interestingly, my male friends in school were taken aside and provided with condoms and a brief explanation, while the other women and I were not.

It has been a while since I was in secondary school and I have learnt that sex education, or RSE, has recently been reformed. In 2017, Education Secretary, Justine Greening announced that she planned on developing a standard form of ‘Relationships and Sex Education’ within schools. This is due to be implemented in September of 2020, with improvements to the information provided by teachers about contraception, same- sex marriage and consent.

However, upon closer inspection of the full report of the proposed changes, I was disappointed to learn that discussions on the LGBTQIA+ community were mainly focused around the family image, and not actual relationships.

Whilst there are improvements in the overall teaching of sex education, with emphasis on safety and healthy relationships, there is a lack of information on pleasure and sexual acts, especially within LGBTQIA+ relationships.

There is also the concern surrounding the parents’ rights to remove their children from RSE up until the age of 16. Children deserve to understand RSE before they reach the age of 16, as usually their experiences and exposure will begin before that age.

While it is a huge improvement to the curriculum, there is still some way to go. There will be difficulties with religious schools, as we have seen with the protests outside of UK schools (although these are rare) alongside parental interference with the teaching. However, we are seeing progress that has been needed for many years.

AUTHOR: guest blogger, Katherine

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