‘Consent’, ‘Sex Worker Rights’, ‘Women’s Reproductive Rights’ and ‘LGBT+ Sex’. This isn’t the sex ed you had in secondary school.
These are some of the topics we’ll be talking about this Keele Sex Week; a series of workshops and discussions dedicated to what is becoming popular and controversial awareness-raising campaign on campuses across the world.
While I can say I have been a little nervous about the reaction I’d get for launching this campaign, the goal of Keele Sex Week isn't to sensationalise sex, but to encourage healthy discussions around sex, sexuality and relationships.
Talking about sex is still very much taboo in our society, but sex is a natural part of life, and it happens with or without sex education. We have to realise that most students in the UK can easily google words and view pornography, and have very easy access to a whole range of what is often one-sided sex ed. Most people will face important decisions about relationships and our sexual behavior at some point in their lives, and although sex education is now compulsory in the UK, much of what we are taught is not up to scratch.
We all have the right to lead healthy lives, and society has a responsibility to give us comprehensive sexual health education that gives us the tools they need to make healthy decisions. The decisions we make around sex can impact on our health and well-being for the rest of our lives, so it isn’t enough for sex ed to simply include discussions of abstinence and contraception to help young people avoid unintended pregnancy or disease. Comprehensive sexual health education must do more. It must encourage young people to develop the honest, age-appropriate information and skills necessary to help them take personal responsibility for their health and overall wellbeing
Maintaining a healthy relationship requires skills many young people are never taught – like positive communication, conflict management, and negotiating decisions around sexual activity. A lack of these skills can lead to unhealthy and even violent relationships. Sex education should include understanding and identifying healthy and unhealthy relationships; effective ways to talk about relationship needs and manage conflict; and strategies to avoid or end an unhealthy relationship.
Sex education should consider information appropriate to a students’ development and cultural background. It should include information about puberty and reproduction, asexuality, abstinence, contraception, relationships, sexual violence prevention, body image, gender identity and sexual orientation. Sex education should be informed by evidence of what works best to prevent unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, but it should also respect young people’s right to complete and honest information. Sex education should be treated sexual development as a normal, natural part of human development.
Keele Sex Week is an opportunity to discuss topics such as these and bridge the gap between sexual pleasure and public health. This is the beginning of a cross-campus campaign that encourages our community to balance both pleasure and safety in sex education messages.
Want to get involved? See our timetable below, or email Aysha at email@example.com. You can contact Sexpression Keele at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sexpression: Keele is a student-led branch of the national campaigning charity Sexpression: UK, that empowers students to make decisions about sex and relationships by running informal and comprehensive SRE in the community.