Over the past couple of weeks, Twitter users have been sharing their experiences of sex education in schools under the hashtag #SRENow (SRE being sex and relationship education). The campaign, spearheaded by Everyday Sexism founder Laura Bates, has highlighted what some are saying is a gap in education that is potentially damaging to young people.
The government’s curriculum recommendations state that only parts of SRE are compulsory – those that relate to science subjects – and parents reserve the right to withdraw their children from the subject if they choose. While there is support out there for schools that are trying to cover as much of the allowed subject matter within SRE as possible, a lot of people feel that there isn’t enough governmental support.
Underlining the movement is the argument that in today’s world, children need to be better educated about sex and relationships, owing to the fact that popular media means exposure to adult themes is much more likely at a younger age than it was even just 10 years ago. Whether or not you agree with the notion that SRE isn’t well enough covered in schools, some of the stories on the hashtag are eye opening, upsetting, and – for a lot of us – all too familiar. It certainly sparked conversation in the School Planner Company office; here are some of the stories that came back to us.
“From memory, in a Cambridgeshire village secondary school back in the 90s, there was little by way of sex education. I remember us girls being herded into a ‘special’ session about periods, but that was it!”
“Good sex education is something I’m very grateful to my secondary school for. Rock Hudson died of HIV/Aids in my first year and Freddie Mercury in my last. What started as video lessons in Year 7 (first year back then) biology and repeated in more depth in Year 9 became lectures and debates in Sixth Form after the ‘Don’t Die of Ignorance’ campaign had gathered momentum. For many of us, those Year 7 lessons were the first discussions we’d had about sex. The school did a really good job of making it about the biology at first, but then layering in the emotional side as we got older. I think we left school well prepared and with a respectful attitude that most of us shared. It’s difficult to compare to today’s standards. After all, we did laugh at Burt Reynolds and Benny Hill which make me cringe today!”
“We definitely didn’t have anything that covered relationship education or consent. My lasting memory will be us girls being told that it was unacceptable to poke fun at the boys when their voices broke, but no such warning was given to the boys about girls and their periods. It led to a lot of ‘It’s that time of the month!’ comments if a girl dared to stand up for herself.”
We’d love to hear your thoughts about the subject in the comment section below; did you feel that your SRE was lacking? Do you wish it was different now?