29th March 2018
Following the recent government consultation on sex and relationship education, young Stonewall campaigner Jacob shares his thoughts on why this education is so important for young LGBT people.
RSE stands for Relationship & Sex Education. At school, I only received the latter of that and not very much of it either. I remember the first (and only) lesson in sex ed I had was held in the IT classroom when I was 11 or 12 and it basically consisted of us all sitting on the carpet and watching a video that showed us a boy standing there in swimming shorts as the video explained what would happen to our bodies as we started to get older. It was a walkthrough of puberty essentially. No mention of sex, safe sex, girls and absolutely nothing about LGBTQ+ people. Looking back part of me thinks they kept it so brief and ‘male’ oriented because it’s a faith school and you’re supposed to be married before you even think about any of that. The only other lesson in school that remotely resembles sex ed was in secondary school and that was a science lesson about how babies grew inside a woman. As usual, the class was split into ‘boys and girls’ and taught about this separately.
Inclusive RSE is something that NEEDS to be accessible to all children, regardless of their family's faith or the personal beliefs of the parents. This is about the child's knowledge and understanding of others as well as themselves. Diversity needs to be included in RSE in order to prevent bullying, misunderstandings and hate based on misinformation. We also need to stop separating classes by ‘gender’ or anything else. I may not be sexually attracted to women but thinking that they were the same as men but without the penis until I was 18 is still so embarrassing for me to admit but it’s also why I am so passionate about RSE and believe it is vital not only for the individual's understanding of themselves but of others too.
I also believe the inclusion of LGBTQ+ people is essential for children in order to create a much more accepting future society, and by LGBTQ+ I don’t just mean saying “some people like the same sex” I mean explain things, outlining relationships, how would a same-sex couple have a baby? Etc… and don’t make it just ‘Gays and Lesbians’ either, include everything, especially gender as people are still confused by the fact there are more than two genders and that your gender and your biological ‘sex’ are two different things! In short, the more information/topics covered, the better.
I missed out on so much, including what sex even was. It’s true, sex was a load of rumours spread around the school for me and then after leaving primary school I was bullied so bad at secondary school my social skills took a nosedive, making me the outcast at school and excluding me from peer groups that may have helped my understanding of sex at that age. I only understood how (gay) sex worked when I found out myself online years later and that was scary. As an anxious gay teen the last thing you need to stumble across online is a hardcore adult video. We need to stop 'protecting' young people from topics like sex because they will and do find out, and a lot of the time they get the wrong idea. As I did.
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