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The Importance of Sex Education


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What is sexuality?


Sexuality relates to your sexual feelings, thoughts, attraction, and behaviours towards other people. This includes all aspects of a person’s values, beliefs, bodies, desires, relationships, gender and thoughts and feelings. Sexuality is diverse, can change over time and is an important part of a person’s identity which is why it is so important for education on the topic.


The spread of misinformation


It is so easy for misinformation to be spread about sex and sexuality. This is why education on this topic is mandatory. Currently all primary and secondary schools are required to teach RSHE to their pupils. They teach students a range of topics from puberty, menstruation, sex, sexual health, consent etc. Schools are strongly encouraged to include the teaching of different family models and same sex relationships and explore the features of stable and healthy same sex relationships.


However, despite this education, campaigns have still grown across the world designed to continue to spread misleading and distorted information about the sexuality education curriculum. They have presented sexuality education as "sexualising children at a young age", “propaganda in favour of homosexuality”, spreading “gender ideology” and depriving parents of their right to educate their children themselves. This misleading information is spread to scare parents about what their children are learning and has led to the sex education curriculum being under attack.


Why is sex education important


There is significant evidence on the impact of sexuality education and the effects it has on children. Some of the impacts of teaching sexuality is a reduction in teenage pregnancies and abortions and a decrease in sexually transmitted infections such as HIV among young people aged 15–24. The benefits also go beyond reproduction and health risks associated with sexuality. These benefits are, a decrease in sexual abuse amongst children, helps prevent children falling prey to sexual predators online, helps prevent gender-based violence and discrimination towards woman and helped to decrease homophobia in children and young people. Other skills young people learn are awareness of human rights, respect, acceptance, tolerance and empathy for others, gender equality, confidence and self-esteem.


Key steps to take to improve sexuality education:


1. The teaching should be adapted to the developmental stages of the students.


The 2018 UNESCO International Technical Guidance on sexuality education speaks on a range of age groups where it talks about the importance of children learning about sexuality and safe sex behaviours before they start to become sexually active, so they are prepared for healthy and consensual relationships.


2. Information taught should be relevant to science and human rights standards.


Sexuality education should not include any forms of judgement or prejudice and stereotypes. It was stressed by the European committee on social rights that sexual and reproductive health education must be provided to school children without discrimination on any ground and that it should not be used “as a tool for reinforcing demeaning stereotypes and perpetuating forms of prejudice which contribute to the social exclusion of historically marginalised groups and others that face embedded discrimination and other forms of social disadvantage which has the effect of denying their human dignity.” This curriculum should also be regularly reviewed, evaluated, and revised to ensure accuracy.


3. Provide the families with accurate information on what the teaching entails and then the benefits of it.


If sexuality education is to be accepted and successfully implemented it should consider, the parents and communities cultural and religious backgrounds. They should consider taking their views into account as long as they do not contradict the main aims of the sexuality education.


4. Sex education should also be provided to out of school children and young people.


This is relevant for children and young people with disabilities. Their disabilities tend to be ignored and are often deprived of any information on sexuality and relationships despite their high vulnerability to sexual abuse and exploitation.


5. Ensure the teachers receive specialised training.


Integrating training on sexuality education into regular teacher training programmes. This has been done in Estonia and Finland and is an effective way of ensuring that all teachers are adequately prepared to teach their students on the topic. This delivery of sexuality education by schools should be closely and regularly monitored and evaluated by the school boards.


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