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Now it’s law, what’s next for sex and relationship education?

Now it’s law, what’s next for sex and relationship education?

Alex Phillips, Campaigns and Parliamentary Officer, looks forward to the next steps in our campaign following compulsory SRE becoming the law in England.

Yesterday was an historic day. The Queen enshrined compulsory Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) into law.

This law states that from September 2019, all English secondary schools, including state, academy, free and private schools, must teach Relationships and Sex Education, and all primary schools must teach Relationships Education – all to prepare the next generation for the realities of today’s world.

Without compulsory SRE, young people are leaving school ill prepared – we found that one in seven didn’t receive any SRE at all [PDF], while 95 per cent weren’t taught about LGBT relationships and 75 per cent had nothing on consent – risking their mental health, safety and happiness.

Alongside passionate young people, who were quite frankly fed up with their lack of SRE, we showed parliamentarians from across the political spectrum the need and want for this essential subject. We set up meetings with young people and MPs and Peers so they could share their experiences of sex education. Working with Student Pride, we flooded MPs with Valentine’s Day cards demanding that love and relationships, not just biology, are taught in all schools. This must also include LGBT relationships.

We supported parliamentarians to put the pressure on, working with them to schedule debates and to draft amendments on SRE to the Children and Social Work Bill. All of this, and the important work of other charities, unions and associations, including the British Humanist Association and the Sex Education Forum, was finally heard and now SRE will finally be made compulsory in all schools in England.

But what next?

It’s confirmed, we’ve got compulsory SRE – but the work isn’t finished yet.

We must ensure that teachers get allocated time, resources and training to deliver Sex and Relationships Education, and they get ongoing support and continual professional development so every child is prepared for adult life.

We must also ensure what is being taught covers topics such as sexual health, HIV and consent –something we know is often missed out currently [PDF] – and that LGBT relationships are not just a passing comment or a tokenistic tick-box exercise. 97 per cent of young people want to learn about LGBT relationships so it needs to be done meaningfully.

The guidance on SRE, which is due to be consulted on this autumn, is vital to implementing mandatory SRE – that’s why we’re working with young people to ensure their voices are heard in the lead up and during the consultation. Young people know what they want and need from this new subject and we are looking forward to working with them and which ever Government is voted in, in June, to ensure that young people have a seat at the discussion table.

If you want to get involved with the next stage of our SRE campaign in England, please contact me on alex.phillips@tht.org.uk.

Alex PhillipsAlex Phillips is Campaigns and Parliamentary Officer at Terrence Higgins Trust.

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