Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Sex, religion and the pope

There are pages and pages about the pope's state visit this week - whatever you think about the visit and whatever your religious views and perspectives, one thing is sure, his visit is causing lots of opportunities to discuss (often passionately) how we teach children about relationships, sex and keeping safe with people with all sorts of different beliefs.

I have come across the following articles and letters which are interesting perspectives. I was privileged almost a decade ago to work with a multi-faith group to develop a framework for teaching about sex and relationships in a multi-faith and multi-cultural society. The book, Faith, Values and Sex and Relationships Education published by the National Children's Bureau. The links at the end of the blog provide a link through to the factsheet that came from that work, and some recent case studies of practical work that is being done working with Faith Communities and teaching about sex and relationships.

Report in the telegraph on survey about Roman Catholics views on traditional teaching about sexuality issues, including contraception and homosexuality.

An open letter from FPA and NAT about the pope and his teachings

An article by Polly Toynbee

And finally, here is an excellent factsheet and some case study examples from the Sex Education Forum about how to teach about sex and relationships in a multi-faith and multi-cultural society

Monday, 13 September 2010

Youth Parliament survey on their priorities

The UK Youth Parliament will be discussing their lobbying priorities in the coming weeks. To help them they have done a survey monkey which sets out a range of options. They are asking 11 - 18 year olds to vote on their choices in the survey monkey below. Sex education is one of the options. Please forward the link to anyone you know and ask them to fill out the survey.

Friday, 10 September 2010

JLS visit Brook offices

Yesterday, following the successful launch of their Just Love Safe condom range in partnership with Durex and the JLS Foundation, JLS visited Brook's offices in Kentish Town to talk to the V team and Ask Brook volunteers about young people and sexual health about their views on sex and relationships education, sexual health services for young people, using condoms and their campaign and other voluntary work at Brook.

The room had a group of young people who do different things at Brook and have been learning about sexual health, understanding their thoughts and feelings, gathering their ideas, generating campaigns and helping other young people for different lengths of time. Before JLS arrived they were talking to a journalist, in full flow, articulate, clear and forceful as always and then JLS arrived..... for a few moments it was clearly overwhelming, and whilst the guys were talking and asking them questions it was clear that brains were going blank with star struck terror and it only took a few moments before they were back on form discussing ideas about how to improve sexual health, and the difference such a high profile band can make to improving the country's attitude to sexual health, young people and our appalling rates of teenage pregnancy and sexual health.

I am so impressed with a) their willingness to be such high profile models for this work b) their creative approach to partnership with Durex that will both make condoms more palatable for many as well as raise funds to be put back into improving sexual health and c) their determination to really understand the issues, to spend time finding out by talking to Brook young people, staff and others and their passion to make a difference and be part of the recipe for the needed change. And I am also proud of the team of young people from across Brook and my team at national office for containing themselves beyond the occassional squeal and for some people holding a particularly hard confidence about what was happening, when and where: it was a great team effort the last few days and I proud of the team for working together to make it a useful experience for JLS, and for Brook.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

JLS get behind improving young people's sexual health

Two of Brook's young volunteers and I have just come back from the launch of JLS' charity, JLS Foundation, and their new range of Just Love Safe condoms in partnership with Durex. And to clear this one up at the start - all the profits from the condom sales are going to the JLS Foundation which will support sexual health.

Teenage pregnancy and young people's sexual health has long needed celebrity support and leadership and now at last we have it - incredibly high profile role models who millions of young people respect (and adore) who have already starting speaking out loudly, confidently and intelligently about the need to improve our culture towards sex in this country so that young people can enjoy, take responsibility for, and protect their sexual health.

And in our recent meetings it has been clear that Aston, Oritse, Marvin and JB all know their stuff and they mean business - they know there is no quick fix; today when asked what other causes they may support they said (about sexual health) 'we are in this for the long haul, for as long as it takes'. It is clear that all of them have taken time to understand the issues behind the teenage pregnancy and STI statistics and all of them talk passionately about the need for change.

All of us at Brook are looking forward to working with them over the coming months, years and decades - as long as it takes - so this peculiar 'Benny Hill culture' about all things sexual becomes a thing of the past and all young people get the education, services and support they need so they can have sex when they are ready, with someone they trust, safely.