Wednesday, 24 September 2014
When I left school feeling unprepared about sex and relationships, I didn't blame the school. I didn't blame the teachers. I blamed the government.
Gender-based violence is rising in the UK, and as it rises, our culture is becoming more and more pornified. Society is pushing the idea that sex sells more than ever. It's difficult to buy anything without seeing it advertised behind women's sexualised body parts. Online porn is exploding, and sexting has become the latest craze. Of course it is important to talk about sex, but the media is doing it in a ridiculously warped and unhealthy way. Young people need information. Most importantly we need correct information. But political parties seem to care sod all.
That is why I'm calling on you - whoever you are - to please sign this petition calling on party leaders to commit to making sex and relationships education in schools compulsory, to include sexual consent, healthy and respectful relationships, gender stereotypes and online pornography.
Earlier this year, I ran a successful campaign alongside TeleWonderWoman and change.org. New guidance was written to include violence towards women, internet pornography and sexting. Of course I'm thrilled at the improvement. But I have to ask, is guidance really enough?
Most schools teach SRE badly, some don't teach it at all. It is disgusting that, under the will of our government, we offer nothing to counter information young people are getting online, in magazines and in video games. We hear about STIs and the biology of sexual intercourse in classrooms all the time, and of course that information is important. But we need to consider the R in SRE. We need to start educating about relationships.
If education fails to meet the demands of a dangerous culture, a whole new generation will enter relationships with negative and harmful ideas about sex.
In schools, teachers with no speciality in SRE and only flimsy government guidance are forced to teach groups of teenagers what it means to be in a sexual relationship. We're shown VHS videos, and most kids just take it as a joke. Because it is. But we have the power to change that.
Let's speak out for the sake of our girls. And for our boys also. Teachers, parents and students want change. I'm calling on party leaders to stop abusing their power, listen to the people, and not let my generation down. Will you add your voice to make a difference?
Sign the petition here.
Tweet @EverydaySexism and @EVAWhd with the hashtag #SREnow, to let political parties know why you think this is important.
Further reading here.