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I’m standing up for sex and relationships education

Ales takes part in the youth action festival that discussed sex and relationships education

I’m standing with thousands of my peers across the country to make sex and relationships education in UK schools mandatory. And here’s why:

My experience of sex and relationships education is a good one. I went to a grammar school in Kent and the school invited a trained professional into our lessons who explained the laws of consent, how to safely use contraception, and how to spot signs of abuse, both mentally and physically, in a relationship.

But not all young people have had the same experience – a report found that 1 in 7 young people missed out on sex and relationships education entirely.

Education is supposed to provide young people with skills and knowledge that will be invaluable to them for the rest of their lives. Sex and relationships form some of the most difficult challenges young people face both in their adolescence and adulthood years to come. So it’s just crazy it’s currently not a mandatory on curriculum in schools.

As well as campaigning with Plan International UK, I represent my home area on the UK Youth Parliament. We’re calling for ‘A Curriculum for Life’. The syllabus would involve educating young people about finance, politics, sex and relationships and 142,471 young people nationwide have voted for this topic.

We all have a right to sex and relationships education. But right now, even if young people receive some form of sex and relationships education, there is no consistency across the country - schools decide what is taught and what is not. This is especially the case in faith based schools, where young people are often not taught about contraception if it is deemed to contradict the teachings of the religion.

Even though I was happy with the sex and relationships education I received when I was in year 8, it was very much a one-off thing. In year 8 only a tiny minority of the students were sexually active, and the subject was not revisited until Year 12. In the period between many would have forgotten what they had been taught and many would have begun sexual activity.

As young people, how are we meant to protect ourselves from teenage pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, online cyberbullying and sexting, spot signs of abuse in relationships, and understand the what constitutes as consent if schools are not teaching us this?

For too long young people have been let down by their education system and the time has come for a comprehensive, uniform and compulsory sex and relationship education. As someone who’s been campaigning for this for years, I’m excited to see our voices are finally being listened to - the number of MPs supporting the bill to make sex and relationships education mandatory is growing and the campaign is building momentum. Now we need you to support us. Not only is sex and relationships education crucial, it’s our right!

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