22/10/14 Recent Sex Ed Bills

Us at C4C headquarters have been extremely excited these past few weeks as we are seeing parliament talk about SRE again! This is very important for us and you so we have put together a quick and easy update on the attempts at SRE improvement happening at the moment. Excitingly, there are two bills fighting their way through parliament as we speak.

The first is called the Personal, Social, Health and Economic Statutory Requirement Bill. This one is sponsored by the ever lovely Caroline Lucas and one of the many great things about this bill is that is does exactly what it says on the tin. This bill says that all state funded schools (including academies, free schools and faith schools that are currently not required to teach any SRE) must provide SRE and education to end VAWG. Education to end VAWG includes, finally, teaching young people about consent! This bill also makes provisions for vital teacher support to make sure teachers are able to provide the best education they can. The next reading of this bill is Friday 24/10/14. You can keep up to date on this bill, including the text of the bill that has not been published yet, here on the government website.

The second is the Sex and Relationship (Education) Bill which is sponsored by Diana Johnson. This bill, if it goes through, means that the Secretary of State has to make provisions (politics speak for get ready) for adding sex and relationships, resilience against bullying and sexual abuse and ending violence against women and girls in the national curriculum. This doesn’t make it compulsory to teach in all schools (academies, faith and free schools will again be exempt) but it does count as a huge step forward in government guidelines and education legislation going in the right direction! The next reading of this bill is on the 21/10/14 and keep up with it here.

Okay, now we know what’s going on, but why does it matter? Well both these bill will put consent in the National Curriculum! That is what we are campaigning for here at Campaign4Consent. That is the obvious reason but both of these bills both have amazing, far reaching benefits for young people in the UK, their sex and relationships. The PSHE Bill is performing what is pretty much the dream role of making sure every child receiving a state education will learn SRE including consent whilst the SRE bill not only extends the National Curriculum to include consent but a variety of issues encountered sadly by thousands of young people around sexual abuse and violence against women. Moreover these bills signal that the government is at last taking educating young people seriously and our voices are being heard. Our hard work and the work of tireless MPs such as Caroline Lucas and Diana Johnson is finally paying off and soon, hopefully, the young people of Britain will be reaping the rewards.

Campaign4Consent is a student lead campaign and we pride ourselves in raising student’s voices on the issue of consent in the curriculum and SRE. Our voices and the voices of our fellow student s who have been failed by current SRE have been calling for consent to be taught so that no more young people must suffer abuse, assault and harassment that is ignored and perpetuated by our education system. This is the first step to stopping the cycle. By teaching children and young people about consent and sexual abuse we are stopping it happening in the future. It is often said that the only way Rape Culture will be eliminated is by teaching perpetrators what they are doing is wrong and if these bills go through, we are one step closer to a society where rape and sexual assault are not only treated with the seriousness and attention they deserve but are wiped out.

 

Do you want to help these bills? Raise your voice by sending us a blog about why YOU want consent in the Curriculum or you can email your MP asking them to support the bills here.

Catherine, 19

The campaign 4 consent is very important because boys and girls need to be taught about consent and the exact definitions of sexual assault, serious sexual assault and rape due to the confusing messages about sex that they get from things such as pornography, films. There is a sexual violence epidemic in the UK; according to UK Feminista a third of teenage girls experience sexual violence from a boyfriend. The best way to prevent this violence would be to educate the youth about consent and exactly what sexual violence is so that more of them have healthy sexual relationships. There are far too many rape myths in our society that need to be dispelled so that people know exactly what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour and therefore are less likely to engage in unacceptable and illegal behaviour. Additionally, we need to dispel these rape myths so that sexual assault and rape survivors understand immediately afterwards that what has happened is a crime and do not let common misconceptions about sexual assault and rape affect how they view what happened to them.

As a survivor of 6 serious sexual assaults and one attempted rape as well as 2 occasions of indecent and sexual assault, I know all too well how important it is that we teach boys and girls about consent.

As a result of the fact that I was never taught about consent and the exact definitions of sexual assault and serious sexual assault, as well as what healthy relationships are like, the first time it happened to me at 17 I did not realise that I had been taken advantage of whilst drunk.

Unfortunately, as I did not realise until much later that I was assaulted, and was in denial for a long time about what happened, I thought it was okay for men to touch me, kiss me and have dry sex without my consent. Later, this turned into me thinking that it was fine for men to penetrate me with their fingers without my consent after I had been seriously sexually assaulted once and to coerce me into sexual acts. I thought that this was all okay behaviour even if I felt uncomfortable about it and admitted to myself that I had been taken advantage of; I never labelled it sexual assault.

Despite being a feminist, when it happened to me I denied that I had been sexually assaulted because I thought that because I did not say no, and did not struggle, I was not assaulted. However, on each occasion I was very intoxicated, and unable to consent. Additionally, I never intended to partake in any sexual acts with these men and was always taken by surprise when they attacked me as I had not expected it. Furthermore, on a couple of occasions the men asked if it was okay to do something, however I did not reply, and yet they went ahead with it anyway until I eventually stopped it.

Thus, it is very important to teach consent within a “yes means yes” context as people are not always confident enough to articulate a no, and men do not all seem to realise that silence means no consent. I think that at University there is a big problem of students taking advantage of other students when they are drunk.

I strongly believe that if I had been taught about consent within a “Yes means yes” framework and had been taught the exact definitions of sexual assault and serious sexual assault it is much more likely that I would have reported to the police the people who did this to me, and I could have got counselling and help much sooner.

On Hold

As the amendment we were hoping would go through the House of Lords this January was voted out and all three of us have important exams this term we have decided to put this project on hold. We will still be checking our emails occasionally so please keep sending us blogs and questions and we will respond as soon as possible!

28/1/14 Voted Down in House of Lords

The amendment to the Children and Families bill that we had previously been supporting was voted down today in the House of Lords.

Amendment 53ZAAA was proposed by Baroness Jones of Whitchurch to the Children and Families bill which you can read in full here. The amendment would have put sexual consent, sexual abuse and same sex relationships on the SRE curriculum and is similar to a amendment tabled to the same bill early in 2013 in the House of Commons which was also voted down.

To be honest it is shocking it isn’t already there however the Lords decided today that they do not believe children should be taught that no means no in school as they voted against this vital amendment 209- 142. You can see here the names of the Lords who voted against teaching consent in the SRE curriculum. It is disappointing to see only 351 out of 779 Lords turn up for this vote which could have had a profound effect of the education system. The apathy to this subject in politics is both upsetting and indicative of the culture in our society that perpetuates rape and sexual assault as normal and nothing to make a fuss about. This is utterly wrong and the reason we need consent to be taught in the curriculum.

Press Release 11/9/13

Here is a copy of our 11/9/13 press release.

Press Release- 11/9/13

Campaign4Consent – TYFA

Website:

www.campaign4consent.co.uk

Logo:

//www.campaign4consent.co.uk/wp-content/uploads//2013/06/9a200409fc4e10cfb9a2b76491b3feb3a5166492.jpg

The Twitter Youth Feminist Army launched Campaign4Consent on the 20th of August with the aim of getting sexual consent taught in secondary schools as part of the SRE curriculum. Campaign4Consent is a grassroots, youth led campaign that is working through the internet to change the law and make it compulsory for all teenagers to learn about consent and their right to say no as well as for more resources to be available to teachers so they are able to teach this important subject as well as they can.

The campaign has two paths of action. The first is a pair of blogs, one for pupils and teenager who are the people that the law will affect if changed, talking about how the sex ed they got did not cover all the things they wanted it to and why they want consent taught to them. The other blog is for teachers, parents and adults talking about their experiences, how being taught consent would have helped them and why they think teens today should be taught about consent. The second is an open letter written by us, addressed to the department of education, the letter details what exactly we want and why.

We have recently been given a unique opportunity to work with Baroness Jones to get consent put in the curriculum through an amendment to the Children and Families bill this autumn. We would be using our letter to tell the Lords why they should vote in favour of this amendment and for this to be successful we need to show our campaign has support. We want to show this support through organisations co-signing our letter and submissions to our blog. If you would like to support our campaign by co-signing our letter we would be very grateful, just send us and email back saying you would be happy to co-sign. We would also be greatful if you could spread the word about our blogs, every voice is valuable to us and we want to hear from as many people as possible.

Contact:

For more media equiries:

E: questions@campaign4consent.co.uk

T: 07876230286

F: www.facebook.com/campaign4consent/

For blog submissions or enquiries:

E: submissions@campaign4consent.co.uk

For enquiries about the TYFA:

E: TwitterYouthFeministArmy@live.co.uk

T: 07876230286

F: www.facebook.co.uk/TwitterYouthFeministArmy/

Tw: @_TYFA

#TYFA

 

 

Jenni Weston

 

I have been a secondary school teacher for 13 years. It never ceases to amaze me that there is no compulsory sex and relationships education in our schools. With such high teenage pregnancy rates and an increase in STIs this is surely a public health issue. Furthermore the prevalence of rape and sexual assault illustrate the urgent need for education on consent in sexual relationships and respect for women.

As a teacher I frequently witness the lack of guidance young people are getting when it comes to sexual relationships and health. What I see supports the claim that many young people receive much of their sexual education from pornography rather than in a safe, sensible and guided fashion. I see worrying amounts of sexism and sexual harassment and a culture in which girls are objectified and commodified. Recently we had an incident in which a Year 9 boy was making obscene comments to girls in his class, telling them they should give him oral sex. This, sadly, is not uncommon. The proliferation of internet pornography means that young people have access to increasingly hardcore sexual scenes and yet this ‘education’ is not supported by information about sexual health, consent and relationships. I find this extremely worrying. Boys frequently make sexist comments about and to girls as well as often feeling entitled to touch them without their consent. There was a recent trend in my school of year 10 boys grabbing girls’ breasts. We have had many incidents of ‘sexting’ and I feel this reflects the pressure that girls are under to conform to hyper-sexualised stereotypes. Those incidents that have come to our attention have done so because they have been followed by boys sharing naked images of the girl and by bullying of the girl in question. That education on contraception is lacking is borne up by high teen pregnancy rates. A colleague recently had a conversation with some sixth form girls about career paths in which she talked about the role of a pharmacist and the morning after pill was mentioned; the girls had no idea what the morning after pill was. Alongside the sexualisation of childhood in which young people are under immense pressure to be sexual beings there is also enormous ignorance about the aspects of sex that will protect young people and keep them safe; consent, respect and sexual health. I believe that this needs to be addressed urgently.

Laura

In school we are educated on the physical implications and effects (pregnancy, STI’s etc) but not so much on the mental and emotional effects sex can cause and I think this is something that needs to change drastically. One of the biggest and saddening facts for me is that many girls / women grow up thinking that having sex with a man is going to make them like them or seem more desirable when the reality is quite the opposite. I’ve been there and had to learn the hard way that sex shouldn’t be used as a tool or a power trip, it should be a healthy and pleasurable experience relished by both parties, whether that be in a serious or casual relationship.  We should only have to learn the easy-way, and by teaching girls and boys from a young age about body autonomy and that no means no, no matter what the circumstance, I believe we will be striving towards a future where instances of rape and sexual abuse are no longer the commonplace.

Izzy

 

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.

Hendrike, 15

I fully support Campaign4Consent because I think it’s important for young people to be informed of sex, and not to be afraid of saying they don’t want to. Some people may be embarrassed to talk about queries they have about sex, and end up doing something which they feel really uncomfortable with. Even though adults say, ‘It’s a natural thing, you can talk about it’, realistically it’s quite private and can be embarrassing to ask/talk about it.

To learn to say ‘no’ is crucial for anyone because it can really hurt people if they are not ready. As a 15 year old myself, I haven’t ever really had a proper sex education lesson apart from one in Year 6, which was literally my teacher reading a comic about parents wanting a baby, and one in Year 9, which was an hour long and mostly about STD’s and contraception. To know about STD’s is helpful, but that isn’t always first concern for any young person. Contraception is good to know about too but then it sends out the message that if you have sex without a condom, you’re going to get pregnant which is quite scary to think about if you’re only in your mid-teens.

Pupils should be taught to say ‘no’ because when they try to say it, sometimes they can be called names like ‘frigid’ or ‘prude’ and that could make them feel bad so they end up doing something which is uncomfortable for them. Some people can’t ignore it. Sometimes, it can lead to rape. Because it’s also important for people to learn how to react to the word ‘no’. It can lead to serious consequences so we need Campaign4Consent to change schools, and create a safer and healthier environment for everyone