15 September 2020

What is Talking Points?

Cambridge News asks a representative of each local political party to answer a question on a local issue in just 300 words. The answers are then published in the physical copy of the Cambridge News every fortnight. Here, we share our response to the question.

 

Today's Question: Do you think schools in Cambridge(shire) should incorporate the activities suggested in Proud Trust toolkit into the RSE curriculum? 

Additional information about the Proud Trust toolkit. 

In 2017, the Proud Trust was awarded just under £100k from the government’s Tampon Tax Fund to produce a toolkit for sexual education classes. The toolkit is entitled, ‘Sexuality aGender v2 – An Inclusive Sexual Health Toolkit (ages 13+).’ The Cambridge Green Party contacted Rachel Williams, Training and Education Manager at The Proud Trust, for more information on the toolkit. We were told,

"The toolkit assumes:

  • everyone has a gender, but might have different ways in which they describe or experience theirs.
  • everyone has a sexuality, but might have different ways in which they describe or experience theirs.
  • everyone has a body, and that genitals on one body may look different to another persons.
  • everyone has likes and wants, but may have different likes and wants to the next person.
  • that body parts come together during sexual activity, but what people might like and want sexually may be different to the next person.

It encourages a youth work approach of exploring these things, not by telling young people what to do, rather by questioning, and working with information that young people supply in that process - working with them from where they are. It acknowledges that relationships can be broader than men in relationships with women, and sex can be broader than penis in vagina. It encourages good communication in relationships to explain what you want and don't want, and encourages acceptance of self, and others, whoever they might be."

The Tampon Tax Fund is supposed to ensure that the VAT on sanitary products goes towards “projects to improve the lives of disadvantaged women and girls.”

 

Our response to the Cambridge News

Children are exposed to sex and relationships through advertising, media and films rather than through Sex and Relationships Education (SRE). The UK has high rates of teenage pregnancy[1] and sexually transmitted infections[2,3] and teenagers consistently report SRE is delivered too little, too late[4,5]. A third of men and a quarter of women first have sexual intercourse before the legal age of 16[6].

 

This toolkit considers sexual activities, gender identities and sexual identities with neutral language and without any judgement or assumptions. It discusses the breadth of consensual sexual experience without the narrow focus on reproductive biology. This would be clearly highly beneficial to LGBT+ young people, and it is a topic that a high proportion of all young people want education on. The Sex Education Forum’s latest survey of 1000 16-17 year olds identified that 28% of them felt they didn’t learn all they needed to know about LGBT+ issues[4].

 

There are many ways to improve the lives of disadvantaged women and girls, notably, we should urgently rectify the fact that half of two-thousand 11-25 year olds surveyed had not learnt how to get help were they to suffer sexual abuse[5]. This does not detract from the fact that this toolkit will fill a gap of knowledge requested by young people themselves. Let’s implement it, and listen to the feedback they give us afterwards.

 

Today's Author

Our response was written by Dr Hannah Charlotte Copley. Hannah is an NHS Doctor and Medical Research Council Researcher, and Co-Convener for Cambridge Green Party. She is a strong advocate for preventative medicine and evidence based public health interventions.

 

References

1. Adolescent Pregnancy, Birth, and Abortion Rates Across Countries: Levels and Recent Trends:

https://www.jahonline.org/.../S1054-139X(14.../fulltext...

2. European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, Surveillance Report Gonorrhoea Infection 2018:

https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/.../gonorrhoea-annual...

3. European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, Surveillance Report Chlamydia Infection 2018:

https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/.../AER-for-2018-STI-chlamydia...

4. Sex Education Forum - Young people’s RSE poll 2019:

https://www.sexeducationforum.org.uk/.../Young%20people...

5. Sex Education Forum - Heads or Tails ? - what young people are telling us about SRE:

https://www.sexeducationforum.org.uk/.../heads-or-tails...

6. Family Planning Association - Sexual Behaviour Factsheet:

https://www.fpa.org.uk/factsheets/sexual-behaviour

7. Department for Education Guidance: Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) (Secondary):

https://www.gov.uk/.../relationships-and-sex-education...

8. School‐based sex education policies and indicators of sexual health among young people: a comparison of the Netherlands, France, Australia and the United States:

https://www.tandfonline.com/.../10.1080/14681810500038889






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