Friday, 6 May 2011

Lies, misinformation and circular debates

This week gave me another reason to believe Brook's sex: positive campaign is vital. More lies, more misinformation and more circular debate - this time about sex and relationships education.

On Wednesday a 10 minute rule Bill brought forward by Nadine Dorries which was voted to pass to second reading. The 10 minute rule Bill proposed providing girls aged 13 - 16 with lessons on abstinence. This completely disregards what children and young people have been telling us for decades - sex and relationships education needs to include more about relationships, real life dilemmas, emotions, peer pressure and influence, gender, sexuality etc etc.

I agree completely with Chris Bryant that it is ludicrous legislation and thankfully I agree with John Smeaton from SPUC who noted there is a slim chance of it going anywhere at the next stage.

But of course it did provide another liberal dusting of misinformation and myth about what teachers do in the classroom. It is disrespectful of and can frighten those doing a good job helping children and young people navigate their way through a sexualised world. Given that we know providing good quality SRE is part of the solution, not part of the problem we really don't want to undermine people's confidence.

The premise underpinning the Bill is wrong on many levels. It is wrong because it disregards the broad consensus amongst parents, children and professionals who agree that we should be providing comprehensive sex and relationships education in schools. It is wrong because it ignores completely the evidence that discredits abstinence only education and it ignores the evidence that shows comprehensive sex and relationships education helps delay first sex and ensures young people use contraception when they do choose to have sex.

And it is wrong because it feeds the myth making and fear machine that prevents real progress in this area. I have never seen or heard of 7 year olds being taught how to put a condom on a banana in the classroom. Have you? And if I did I would think it was inappropriate. Would you?

Finally it is wrong because it suggests we don't know that learning about saying yes, saying no, saying maybe, learning about consent and pressure, individual choice and autonomy and developing self respect, confidence and communication skills is a fundamental part of sex and relationships education at the secondary school.

A small minority of people may support this Bill. I, like most people, am not of their number. Are you? So to the teachers, youth workers and others doing excellent sex and relationships education thank you for the work that you do day in day out to help support our children and young people. Most sensible adults appreciate the work you do enormously.

Pledge for the sex:positive campaign at

1 comment:

jo36 said...

Are you leaving Brook? Your job is up for grabs? Off anywhere exciting?