I recently went back to my old secondary school to speak to my former politics teacher, who also happens to be the head of PSHCE. Campaign4Consent really caught my attention, as I feel the lack of proper sex education in schools has been a persistent issue for many years that has been overshadowed. In fact, I feel that voices of under-18s are often overshadowed, and it is only now that we’re seeing a real rise in youth-led activism. Having looked beforehand at some of the stories on the C4C website, as well as having my own experiences, I was really saddened to see the state of sex education in schools around the country. The general consensus was that schools were teaching about how to use a condom, how not to get STDs and generally just how to be safe during sex. While this is good, it’s certainly nowhere near good enough. As well as getting consent put in the National Curriculum, the campaign suggests that teachers explain what consent isn’t, as well as introducing a sex education syllabus that includes LGBT relationships. As a gay woman, I know that this kind of information would have been invaluable when I was 12 or 13. My teacher pointed out that something like 72% of 11 year olds watch pornography. To think that it is 2013 and this is what the children of our future are being taught shows that the attitudes that result in sexual assault later on in life are instilled from an early age. Which is why this campaign is so important.
But all hope is not lost! Things are looking up for the children of today. Firstly, the government have finally acknowledged that something needs to be done. Secondly, my teacher seemed to be really passionate about making sure that these things were filtered into the curriculum too, and after attending the UK Feminista Summer School I know that lots of teachers are too. My old politics teacher is introducing consent and LGBT relationships to kids between 12-14 as the school have given her permission to adapt the curriculum to suit the ever-changing needs of children today. I think this is really positive step for my school and I hope that others can take example in following it. It’s very difficult for some teachers to do this because however passionately they feel about changing the curriculum, and I know that lots do, it’s not always an option. But after seeing the changes that are happening in my school, I’m hopeful that we’re about to witness an even bigger change that will positively affect young boys and girls all over Britain.