Sex education in schools has always been a topic of fuelled conversation among parents, and opinionated public house frequenters. I found myself within earshot of one such discussion as the question of whether to introduce ‘non-heterosexual’ education to the syllabus should be agreed upon. As half a dozen people voiced their objections I found myself squirming, and biting my tongue for fear of being run out of town with a pitchfork pointing at my posterior. So, in this space, I would like to share my perfectly valid opinion, and I believe it is a very good one, but I am afraid of real life humans.
Children spend a significant number of waking hours in school, it is, therefore, a pretty massive contributor to the education of ‘all things’. Personal and social development is largely influenced by peers and those people in charge of the code of conduct. I can’t help but ask myself, of all those parents who object to the teaching of any matters of Personal, Social and Health Education (PHSE), how many of them take the responsibility on themselves? I was raised (quite poorly) by social worker parents; Sunday lunch was the time for questions and answers of all things sex related. Other children may not have had that privileged start in life, and if we want to avoid the second coming of the trauma of Carrie, kids do need mentors whether you like it or not.
The fear? That lessons will take the form of a scene from the Meaning of Life, teacher and wife ‘at it’ in front of the whole class. I know my school days are far behind me but I’m pretty sure that kind of demonstration would be frowned upon even in the 21st Century. Or are you scared your children will be encouraged to have a physical relationship at a young age, because all that talk about orgasms and hormone surges will send them running to the back of the bike sheds? In reality, children of a certain age find ‘all that stuff’ pretty disgusting, because they don’t want to think their parents ever ‘did it’. And, this is not the education we are talking about. We are talking about teaching young people about loving, caring, healthy relationships with people it is legally allowed to have those relationships with.
The first step towards an all inclusive curriculum is to get more people writing about the variety of relationships people have with each other (my next move). Under no circumstances should there be any divide between heterosexual and non-heterosexual education. Education should be all encompassing. Let’s talk about humans and human love. We don’t need a breakdown of gender identification, that instantly makes things ‘different’. If sadly, parents object to the ‘normalisation’ of non- traditional stereotypes, they also need educating.
We need diagrams, images, and a long pointy stick. Images of people from all walks of life, demonstrating warm loving interactions. We need to talk about that love between ‘people’, all people. How some of them can make babies the conventional way, and how some have to find alternative ways to complete their loving families. Children start their lives with more compassion, tolerance, and love than most adults will ever have. It is up to us as a society to nurture those personality traits. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but with any luck we will rid ourselves of the racists and bigots, to be fair they will all die out eventually, let the new kids on the block come fighting up the rear and show them how it’s really done. What is normal anyway?
Lisa Ives for Pf Magazine