IF YOU cast your mind back to your school days, you will most likely remember lots of laughing, blushing and awkward conversations in you sex ed class- that is if you were lucky enough to have been taught sex education.
Times have now changes and following updates to the curriculum, it is now mandatory for relationships and sex education (RSE) to be taught in all schools, regardless of whether it is state or private.
The newly updated curriculum, that took 20 years to change, will cover a range of topics from pornography and sexting to sexuality and gender identity.
However, fresh concerns have been raised about the effectiveness of sex education after thousands of testimonies from secondary school children across the UK were shared to the Everyone’s Invited website, where people can anonymously share experiences of misogyny, harassment, abuse and assault.
Department for Education figures show Hampshire schools excluded students 36 times for sexual misconduct in 2018-19 – two permanently and 34 temporarily.
We decided to ask readers what they wish they had been taught in school sex education.
Here is what they said.
PH levels and soap
Leigh Clair wrote: “I hope they are all taught about what the STIs are and the presentation of them and why it’s important to use condoms and get checked two weeks after each new partner!
“It amazes me how many people do not realise that women’s discharge changes through their cycle and not to use soaps on either genitals! Oh, and also what contraception actually does and that emergency contraception is not an abortion pill so doesn’t always work.”
The NHS website states: “It’s a good idea to avoid perfumed soaps, gels and antiseptics as these can affect the healthy balance of bacteria and pH levels in the vagina and cause irritation.”
The pill isn’t the only contraception option
Deanna Kempster emphasised the need for factual information, in response to our question she said: “The seriousness of STI’s, and how they can cause long term effects that affect fertility and overall health and well-being. Also be given correct and factual information regarding contraception and not just scaring girls into taking the pill. It needs to be frank and honest, not just fear mongering.”
Visit the NHS website here to find out more about different contraception methods including caps or diaphragms, implants, injections and IUD’s.
Miscarriages and still birth
Francesca Quintela wishes someone had explained the complications of pregnancy to her when she was younger.
She wrote: “They should be educating the kids about infertility, premature births, tell them about the realities of pregnancies and premature births, miscarriages and still births or women’s body, conditions that affect fertility. These are huge factors I wish I knew more about growing up. It isn’t just a matter of catching a STI or having a baby with unprotected sex, there’s so many more complications than this.”
According to the NHS, it is estimated about 1 in 8 pregnancies will end in miscarriage and still birth happens in around 1 in every 200 births in England.
Porn is not real life
Darren Butler spoke about the importance of teaching pupils that pornography is fiction: “Porn is about as real a depiction of Sex, that Hollywood is of real life.”
A report published by the National Union of Students found that 60 per cent of students surveyed use pornography to find out more about sex, with three quarters agreeing it provided unrealistic expectations.
You can be raped by a partner
Tracey Jones wishes children knew that non-consensual sex with a partner is classified as rape. She wrote: “Forcible sex from partners is still rape/sexual abuse if you didn’t want it.” Adding that children should also practice with a doll to learn the responsibilities of having a child.
According to the NHS website, most sexual assaults are carried out by someone known to the victim. This could be a partner, former partner, relative, friend or colleague. The assault may happen in many places, but is usually in the victim’s home or the home of the alleged perpetrator.
LGBTQ+ people deserve safe sex
Heather Louise Gee wanted sex education to cover different sexualities and gender identities: “I would like to see sex education being inclusive by including information for those who are gay and lesbian as they deserve to be taught how to have safe sex too.”
All children now learn about LGBT+ rights including those who go to faith schools.
LGBTQ+ rights group Stonewall said the move will help all young people grow up knowing that there’s “absolutely nothing wrong or unusual about being LGBTQ+”.
What a normal period looks like
Lauren Grace Smith suggested: “Women’s health issues! Can’t believe they don’t talk about what a normal period is and what isn’t, along with lots of other symptoms.”
RSE is now expected to be reviewed every three years, so rather than wait another two decades, hopefully sex education will keep with the constantly developing digital times.
What do you wish you had been taught about in sex education?