Young people call for LGBT inclusive RSE in Parliament
Wednesday 13 September 2017
We took young people to speak to MPs about their experiences with RSE at school and what should be taught in future.
Today Terrence Higgins Trust, together with Young Minds and Mencap, took young people to Parliament so they could speak to MPs and Lords directly about why we need LGBT-inclusive Relationships and Sex Education (RSE).
Ahead of the consultation into RSE, which becomes compulsory in September 2019, young people shared their experiences of sex education at school and what they’d like to see included in future.
LGBT sex and relationships, learning disabilities and mental health often get left behind when talking about sex education in schools. People who identify as LGBT are more likely to experience mental health problems.
The panel discussion, chaired by William Wragg MP, saw young people and teachers speaking with MPs and civil servants. They discussed why, in the age of social media, the internet and equal marriage, RSE must go beyond labelling body parts and biology.
Young people Aleph, Richard and Jess spoke to MPs about what should be in the Government’s RSE consultation next spring, what topics should be included in these new subjects and what the updated guidance and regulations should look like.
Richard, who has a learning disability, said: 'At school, I didn’t get very much sex education. We learnt the very basics, but we didn’t learn about consent or abuse, about LGBT relationships, or about STIs. The first time I saw a gay couple was on TV when I was 13 – it would have been useful to learn about these things in school.
'It is really important that young people with learning disabilities learn about sex and relationships at school. Teachers need to be open about talking about this. We need to make sure that relationships and sex education in schools is accessible and adjusted to young people with a learning disability. Young people with a learning disability need to know that they can have a relationship and make their own choices.'
Budgets and teacher training were also on the discussion list. Paul Bishop, Assistant Head Teacher at Saint Cecilia’s High School, highlighted the needed for teachers to be trained and receive continual professional development to confidently teach sex-positive, LGBT-inclusive RSE. Paul also called for external health professionals to be involved in the delivery of RSE and that sexual health, HIV and consent be a core aspect.
We’ve heard today how the lack of good quality, inclusive and regular RSE means that young people are leaving school armed with little-to-no information. Crucially, we’ve also listened to students to discover what they want and need to learn - young people themselves should be involved in the design and delivery of RSE so that it is high quality and meets their needs.
Mandatory RSE is a huge leap forward, but we must now ensure content and delivery benefits all young people wherever they go to school, whatever their sexuality. Only then can we tackle issues such as homophobia, bullying, unhealthy relationships and poor sexual health.
|Alex Phillips is Campaigns and Parliamentary Officer at Terrence Higgins Trust.|