Hannah, 15
so my whole experience with sex ed has been awful.
 the only time i remember having any kind of lesson of this kind was in year 5. i was 9, and all that happened was we saw a terrifying video of a lady giving birth, and the nurse told us that ‘you were born because your daddy and mummy had sex, because they are married and love each other’. 6 years later, and that’s the sex education that is supposed to last me through my teenage/adult years for the rest of my life. maybe i’m being a bit harsh. I’m sure the teachers thought our parents would do the nasty job, and everything would be fine, and actually i’m sure most kids in my year had the ‘talk’ with their parents and know enough to get them through. in my case, however, it wasn’t like that. we had the talk, but she refused to even imagine that i would need to know anything other than ‘once you’re married you will love your husband and you will make a child out of that love’. essentially exactly what i learnt in year 5. so by the start of year 10, the year sex suddenly starts being talked about, and half my friends were having experiences at parties and with boyfriends, i keow nothing of contraception, STDs, consent or any kind of LGBT sex. If it wasn’t for vague articles that briefly touch on the subject in magazines, scenes in films, what i’d heard from my friends, and inappropriate adult content i’d accidentally stumbled across on the internet, i wouldn’t even know how it was done. i heard about rape during year 9 from rude jokes boys made and i heard about gay sex the same way.
Last year i had an unpleasant experience with a boy at a party, and i now realize that what he did could be classed as sexual harassment. if he or i had had the appropriate education on consent, the whole experience (including months of discomfort at the memory after) could have been avoided.
To make matters worse, I’ve realized that i am bisexual. having had no education on same-gender sex, not being comfortable to talk to my mum about it, and not having any friends in my position, i now have two choices: to secretly search the internet for help (and risk seeing seriously inappropriate content/ probably wrong and rude answers) or go it alone and hope i don’t make a serious, life ruining mistake.
so i totally approve of this campaign, because i don’t want any kids growing up to make the same mistakes i did, purely because i wasn’t taught about consent and other important topics.

Lili, 15

 

I just got my sex ed last term and I could have learned more typing “Sex Education” into google. I was so disappointed. We had two twenty-minute sessions in our PSHE lessons. Before the first session I was quite hopeful because some sixth formers had been talking to the Headmaster about improving sex ed at school so I thought it would probably be quite up to date with all however that was not the case. My sex ed was wholly contraception based. If nothing else it did give some quite good comprehensive information about contraception and how to get it but in every other area it was lacking. In fact I don’t think it even went into detail how conception works. We didn’t discuss relationships, consent, oral sex, abuse, kinks, LGBT+ sex or relationships didn’t even get a word in and it was generally just not informative enough. I know that most teens these days normally get most of their sex education through the internet and way before the age of 15 when most of us get our sex ed at school and some others get “the talk” from their parents however information from the internet is not always right and can often be exaggerated or very biased and parents may be selective with the things they talk about or more often wont talk about sex with their children at all. Sex ed at school is meant to give comprehensive and accurate information to kids so that they don’t have to rely on ropy information from the internet.

There are so many issues with the sex ed curriculum I can’t think about them all at once but a simple and universally relevant one that is missed out is consent. Sex without consent is rape and any other sexual contact without consent is sexual assault. We are not taught this at school and I would be quite surprised if someone stumbled across lessons on consent randomly on the internet unless they were specifically looking for them which they can’t if they don’t know what consent is! This is a problem because, in some assault cases, people don’t know what they are doing is wrong or that what happened to them was wrong. It is not uncommon, particularly in younger people, for a rapist or assaulter to not know what they are doing is rape or assault and I have read stories of victims not knowing what happened to them was assault or rape for twenty years or more. Victims will be affected by this and not know why they feel so bad and often blame themselves for what happened even though it is their assaulters fault. If teens, who grow up to be adults, know more about consent, what is a crime and where to report assault it will help as victims can get help the help they need, report what happened to them and hopefully the assaulters will be arrested and taken to court. It also will educate potential rapists or assaulters that what they are doing is wrong and a crime.

As you can see consent is pretty important and I think it is important enough to be taught in schools. Almost everybody engages in some kind of sexual contact at some point in their lives and so this is relevant especially to young people as they discover and explore their sexualities. The TYFA (which you readers know I’m involved with) have launched #Campaign4Consent, asking the government to put consent in the UK National Curriculum.