|Sex education: young people's views
Author: jane1313 PM
Cross posted from my work blog. Discussion of the results of a survey I did into young people's views on sex ed. I'm about to start a UK- based campaign on this stuff. People asked for a lot of stuff that I support, but can't make happen, so I wanted to talk about it. For more details on campaigns, youth politics, etc, follow the blogRated: Fiction K - English - Words: 972 - Published: 06-14-12 - id: 3032179
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(I've re-posted this here. But, if you read it here britishyouthcouncil DOTwordpressDOTcom/2012/06/14/sex-ed-survey-your-ideas/ instead, it will count towards my stats for work. Please? Thank you )
In my last post, I talked about the survey I'd put out on sex and relationships education, and my plan to build a campaign out of it. In my last paragraph, I said that if people made their own suggestions on the survey, I'd be thrilled, and would try to include them in the campaign.
First off, thank you to everyone that filled it in, you've made a difference to this campaign. I've not finished analysing the results and writing them up yet. But, I wanted to discuss properly the suggestions that people wrote in. I gave you all the option to think up your own ideas, but I hadn't really expected people to take it. I was wrong. 36% of the people who answered the survey, that's 50 people, gave me their own thoughts and ideas. At the very least, I want to meet people half-way, and talk about what you said.
Nineteen of you wanted LGBT issues to be part of the curriculum. Some of you wanted more than that. I had people asking for asexuality and polyamoury awareness in schools. I had people asking for visibility for non-binary trans people (people who don't identify as male or female). I'm unfortunately not going to change my plans on this, so I want to explain why.
I'm already asking schools to teach safe-sex for same-sex couples. I hope, and expect, that will mean they have to acknowledge that lesbian, gay, and bi people exist, that some of their students might be lesbian, gay, or bi, and that that's OK. Transgender issues need addressing, definitely. I'm not entirely certain that sex and relationships education is the best place to do that, though. If anyone has any thoughts or ideas for how trans issues could be taught in schools, I'd be interested, so please, let me know.
Asexuality and polyamory are issues that I feel strongly about, and that are clearly related to sex and relationships education. My life would have been made significantly easier if I'd had a word for my feelings while I was a teenager. I've heard poly people say the same. However there's a lot of education we still have to do before we can launch a realistic campaign to get this included in the curriculum. I'm sorry. I feel awful, and unreasonable, telling people that their issues have to take a backseat to what's possible, that if I bring up their existence I might wreck my nice neat campaign. But, that's what I'm saying for now. I finish working for the British Youth Council at the beginning of July – if anyone wants to talk about asexual and polyamorous visibility after that, I'd definitely be interested.
And then there was the request I was most conflicted about. In some drafts of my survey "Rape, sexual assault and the law" was a separate topic to "Consent, negotiation, setting and keeping boundaries". For me, there is a difference between "This is what the law says rape is. Don't do it. If someone does it to you, that's unacceptable, here's how you can get help". And "Here are some ways you could talk to your partner about sex and other sexual activity. If you aren't sure what they want, it's always ok to ask. You can use safe-words, if you want, here's how that might work. Etc., etc." But, too many of the people I trialled my survey on weren't sure what I meant by that, so I cut it.
Fourteen of my respondents asked for discussions of enthusiastic consent, consent outside or beyond the law, withdrawing consent, and so on. I'm nervous about including it in my campaign though. I'm worried that these lessons would end up condoning rape-culture  I'm also nervous that teaching this stuff badly might be worse than not teaching it at all, and could actually lead to shaming rape survivors or putting people off reporting. How consent works is complex, personal and emotional, which means it's much harder to teach than concrete things like what rape is, what abuse is, or what safe-sex methods are.
So, I'm not going to add LGBT+ issues, or extra consent, to this petition. I will ask the government to require schools to teach safe-sex for same-sex couples, information about rape and sexual assault, information about abuse and domestic violence. Simple, uncontroversial things, that we might actually get.
I know that this isn't perfect, that it isn't good enough. But it's an improvement. And if we keep working, keep taking the tiny steps that aren't good enough, eventually, things will get better.
 Asexuals are people who don't feel sexual attraction wwwDOTasexualityDOTorg/home/
 Polyamory is having or wanting romantic or sexual relationships with more than one person wwwDOTpolyamoryDOTorgDOTuk/
Some links on enthusiastic consent campusDOTfeministingDOTcom/2010/10/27/on-the-critical-hotness-of-enthusiastic-consent/ (with cartoons!) goodmenprojectDOTcom/comment-of-the-day/enthusiastic-consent-as-a-concept-is-great-for-both-men-and-wome/ (short writing) collegecandyDOTcom/2011/01/20/sexy-time-enthusiastic-consent/ (short explanation)
 Some links of rape culture wwwDOTmarshallDOTedu/wpmu/wcenter/sexual-assault/rape-culture/ (bullet point explanation) /2009/07/23/this-is-what-rape-culture-looks-like/ (Real-life description of the impact of rape culture) storifyDOTcom/londonfeminist/rape-culture-in-up-to-140-characters (Ched Evans case reactions and rape culture)