Poor sex education is ‘failing’ UK school pupils, survey finds

Sex education provisions are 'failing' pupils

Sex education provisions are ‘failing’ pupils


A survey has found that young people in the UK are being put at risk by “inconsistent” sex and relationship education – which leaves them at risk.

The Sex Education Forum carried out a survey of over 2,000 young people aged 11 to 25 – finding their safety may be at risk due to inconsistent sex and relationships education.

The survey found that many young people did not report education about a range of topic – including sexual consent, sexual abuse, or information about female genital mutilation.

It found that half (50%) of young people reported they did not learn how to get help if they were abused, over half (53%) did not learn how to recognise grooming for sexual exploitation, and more than 40% had not learned about healthy or abusive relationships.

A third (34%) of young people said they learnt nothing about sexual consent at school.

It comes amid calls for statutory LGBT-inclusive sex and relationship education in schools.

Neil Carmichael MP, the Chair of the Education Select Committee, recently wrote for PinkNews to urge the government to make sex and relationship education compulsory in schools.

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Lucy Emmerson, Coordinator of the Sex Education Forum, said: “The odds of a young person learning vital information about equal, safe and enjoyable relationships are no different than the toss of a coin.

“The ultimate consequence of this is that many children don’t know how to recognise abusive behaviour or how to seek help.

“With evidence about the benefits for children and young people of teaching SRE stacked up high and a growing list of politicians calling for the subject to be mandatory, there is no excuse for Government to continue leaving SRE to chance.”

Dr Mary Bousted, General Secretary, Association of Teachers and Lecturers said: “As members of the Sex Education Forum, ATL fully supports its call for mandatory and inclusive Sex and Relationships Education.

“We know that education staff want high quality training so that they can deliver the SRE that will enable young people to keep themselves safe.

“We call upon the Government to take this important step, which parents, education staff and young people all want, so that we can all help to tackle child abuse, sexual health issues

i am Jazz


Resources for transgender ‘kids’  are not always obvious when you go looking for them, I am reposting an article from the Human Rights Campain which provides resources to enable  libraries and schools to support transgender kids.


More than 600 people in the small town of Mt. Horeb, Wis., recently came together to read the children’s book I Am Jazz in support of a transgender child in the community — who had begun attending school as the girl she knew herself to be.

The audience — full of children, parents, grandparents and community members — was deeply moved by the experience, where they learned more about how they could support transgender children and youth in their own backyard.

On Jan. 14, communities all across the nation are hosting their own events — building on the momentum the Mt. Horeb community started that night. The Human Rights Campaign — through HRC’s Welcoming Schools program — is encouraging educators, families and community members to create their own readings in support of transgender youth in their communities.



Is religion ever going to give LGBT Students a break?

Editorial:  I have reprinted this article from the Advocate as it shows why keeping schools separate from religion is a necessity, and why the government in Northern Ireland should take heed and remove the various religious inputs that they keep ensuring.  I accept that religion and belief is a right for everyone that wishes to follow one, but not at the expense of other peoples (and in this case LGBT students) well being and safety!



There has been a spike in requests for waivers from compliance with federal nondiscrimination requirements.


With the expansion of LGBT rights, there has been a spike in the number of religiously affiliated colleges and universities seeking exemptions from federal antidiscrimination laws.

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 forbids sex discrimination at any educational institution that receives federal funding, which most do in some form, be it research grants or student financial aid. But it allows any school “controlled by a religious organization” to apply for a waiver from the nondiscrimination requirement if complying with Title IX “would not be consistent with the religious tenets of such organization.”

“These ‘right-to-discriminate’ waivers were relatively rare until the last year,” reports The Column, a Minnesota-based nonprofit LGBT news site, with “a handful” of schools seeking them to avoid putting women in leadership positions. But in 2014, the U.S. Department of Education held that Title IX’s ban on sex discrimination also banned discrimination against transgender and gender-nonconforming people, leading many more schools to apply for waivers. Also, the spread of marriage equality, now nationwide after June’s Supreme Court ruling, has conservative institutions worried they would be required to treat married same-sex couples the same as opposite-sex ones — in access to student housing, for instance.

In the past 18 months, the Department of Education has granted 27 colleges and universities waivers from Title IX compliance, The Column reports. The schools are located throughout the nation, but the majority are in the South and West. Their combined enrollment exceeds 80,000, and in 2014 they received nearly $130 million in federal research grants and student aid. As of August of this year, another nine such waivers were pending.

The schools that have been granted the exemptions include Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina, Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio, Judson College in Alabama, East Texas Baptist University, Oklahoma Christian University, Spring Arbor University in Michigan, and Simpson University in California. Those with waivers pending include Biola University in California, Colorado Christian University, Ohio Christian University, and Multnomah University in Portland.

Some schools have sought the waivers so they could bar or expel transgender students, and some have targeted lesbian, gay, and bisexual students and staff as well, reports the site, which obtained the data through a Freedom of Information Act request. Many of them have used a sample policy by the Christian Legal Society.

“The trend of religiously affiliated, but publicly financed, colleges receiving exemptions from the U.S. Department of Education in order to discriminate against LGBTQ students and employees is disturbing,” attorney Paul Southwick, who has represented students in discrimination suits, told The Column. “While we are seeing increased protections for transgender, intersex, and LGB students through Title IX, we are also seeing the protections of Title IX gutted at the very institutions where students need those protections the most.”

This is recourse, however, Southwick said. He suggested that students or staff who have experienced discrimination file an internal appeal, with the help of a lawyer if possible. “Additionally, students should file a Title IX complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights,” he said. “This is important and should always be done. Even if their college has a religious exemption from Title IX, the exemption may not apply or it may not stick after being challenged.

All of us: New educational resource to promote LGBT diversity in Australian schools


27 November 2015

The program is funded by the federal government and will be available to teachers next year

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Targeted at Year 7 and 8 students (12/13 years olds), All of US is the first resource of its kind to be launched and funded by the Australian federal government’s Department of Education.

The practical teaching kit was commissioned by LGBTI youth group Minus 18 and Safe Schools Coalition Australia which has more than 470 member schools dedicated to promoting LGBT diversity and acceptance in schools and reducing bullying against same-sex attracted and gender diverse students.

All Of Us has been developed to have a real impact on student attitudes towards lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people and to encourage whole school change that affirms and supports the right of all students, staff and families to feel safe at school,’ says the official website.

Comprising seven video lessons, student handouts and posters, the program will form part of the health and physical education curriculum, and available for download and to all schools in both the public and private sector.

The videos explore the impact of homophobia and transphobia on students and schools, and explain what it’s like for a transgender young person to come out and affirm their gender.

Claiming that the Safe Schools Coalition Australia will ‘teach kids gay and lesbian techniques’, the Australian Christian Lobby has called for the program to be axed, the Sydney Morning Herald reported earlier this month.

Sally Richardson, national program director of Safe Schools said the latest resource has been driven and developed by teachers, and was in response to teachers who have for a long time asked for ‘additional support in the classroom to help teach topics of gender diversity, sexual diversity and intersex.’

Ireland to end LGBT discrimination in schools and hospitals


Is there a homophobia problem in PE classes?

Gay Times Logo



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Is there a homophobia problem in PE classes


“Homophobic remarks are flung around on a regular basis”

A new article, part of a PE and school sports series by the Guardian, looks at ways to stop school pupils ‘climbing the school gates’ to avoid PE lessons. Among other reasons, such as unflattering uniforms and limited variety of activities, the article suggests that homophobia in changing rooms prevents some pupils from taking part in PE.

The anonymous writer begins: “The bell rings and once again I have to make the decision whether to climb the school gates or walk to my physical education (PE) lesson. I am not averse to sport – in fact I like keeping fit on the weekends and I’m pretty healthy. But the culture around PE in school means it has become my worst nightmare”

He goes on to explain why: “I am an openly gay teenager and getting changed in front of the other boys, with no privacy, makes me feel desperately uncomfortable.

“Homophobic remarks are flung around on a regular basis, with boys calling each other ‘faggot’ and saying ‘I bet certain boys love it in the changing rooms.’”

The writer suggests a simple remedy for this problem: “A zero-tolerance policy against homophobic slurs and body shaming – even if it’s so-called banter – would make the changing room a more comfortable environment for everyone.”

This insight into the changing rooms comes at a time when more sports stars than ever are publicly discussing their sexualities. Just in the last few months, Olympic skier Gus Kenworthy, and rugby players Keegan Hirst and Sam Stanleyhave all publicly come out as gay. There have also been rumours swirling that two high-profile football players are preparing to come out.

The Guardian’s PE and school sports series is funded by the Youth Sports Trust.

What should schools teach pupils about sex?

Peter Thatchell Foundation





Editorial:  Peter Thatchell has once again put forward some radical thoughts on sex and education.  NIGRA is drawing attention to this as a means of opening the debate that surely needs to occur over the UKs range of sex education policies and how they impact on our children and future society.


Time for radical rethink of sex education to ensure sexual health & happiness

By Peter Tatchell

Let’s Talk About Sex
Teach Secondary – London, UK – Issue 46 – 2015

Millions of young people enter adulthood sexually and emotionally illiterate. Many subsequently endure disordered relationships, ranging from unfulfilling to outright abusive. The result? Much unhappiness – and sometimes mental and physical ill-health.

The lack of effective sex and relationship education (SRE) in UK schools is part of the problem. It is mostly vague and euphemistic, with too little detail and not enough explicitness to be of practical benefit. Much of it concentrates on the biological facts of reproduction, often concerning other species such as rabbits. Very little teaching is actually about sex – or relationships. And it starts too late; usually after young people have become sexually active and adopted bad habits such as unsafe sex.

While SRE should not encourage early sex (it is best if young people wait), it should prepare them for a satisfying, safe adult sexual and emotional life.

The UK government’s education watchdog, Ofsted, said the amount of time spent on SRE in schools is inadequate and that much of it is poor quality. The Social Exclusion Unit noted: “The universal message received from young people is that the sex and relationship education they receive falls far short of what they would like.”

What, then, needs to change in order to make SRE more effective? Here are some suggestions regarding what should be taught in schools:

Sexual Rights Are Human Rights
It is a fundamental human right to love an adult person of either sex, to engage in any mutually consensual, harmless sexual act with them and to share a happy, healthy sex life.

The Right To Sexual Self-Determination
‘It’s my body and my right to control it’ should be promoted in every school to ensure that young people assert their right to determine what they, and others, do with their body – including the right to abstain from sex, say ‘no’ and report abusers. This ethos of sexual self-determination is crucial to thwart people who attempt to pressure youngsters into abusive relationships and risky sex.

A New Ethical Framework: Mutual Consent, Respect & Fulfilment
It is important that SRE acknowledges diverse sexualities and lifestyles, while also giving teenagers guidance on their rights and responsibilities – including teaching about consent and abuse issues. A positive ethical framework can be summed up in three simple principles: mutual consent, reciprocal respect and shared fulfilment. The great advantage of these principles is that they apply universally, regardless of whether people are married or single, monogamous or promiscuous or hetero, bi or homo.

Promoting Safer Alternatives: Oral Sex & Mutual Masturbation
If schools are serious about cutting the incidence of teen pregnancies, abortions and HIV infections, they should highlight safer, healthier alternatives to vaginal and anal intercourse. Oral sex and mutual masturbation carry no risk of conception and a lower risk of HIV. The most effective way to persuade teenagers to switch to these alternatives is by making them look and sound sexy, explaining that they can be sexually fulfilling  and emphasising their advantages over intercourse: no worries about unwanted conceptions, reduced HIV risk and no need to use the pill or condoms. While mutual masturbation is totally safe, oral sex can transmit sexual infections. It is safer than intercourse but not risk-free.

Sex Is Good For You
SRE lessons should acknowledge that sex is good for us. It is natural, wholesome, fun and (with safe sex) healthy. Quality sex can have a very beneficial effect on our mental and physical well-being. Young people have a right to know that while sex is not essential for health and happiness (some people get by without it and that’s fine), most people find that regular, fulfilling sex lifts their spirits and enhances their lives and relationships.

Give Kids All The Facts
Sex education ought to tell the whole truth about every kind of sex and relationship – including sexual practices that some people find distasteful, such as anal intercourse and sadomasochism. The purpose of such frankness is not to encourage these practices, but to help pupils deal with them if they encounter them in later life.

Hetero, Homo and Bi Are Equally Valid
When based on mutual consent, respect and fulfilment between adults, both opposite-sex and same-sex relations are morally valid. While schools should not promote any particular sexual orientation, they should encourage understanding and acceptance of heterosexual, homosexual and bisexual orientations (and transgender and intersex identities) in order to ensure pupil self-acceptance – and to combat prejudice, discrimination, bullying and hate crime.

How To Have Good Sex
Sexual literacy is just as important as literacy in words and numbers. Good sex isn’t obvious; it has to be learned. To ensure happier, more fulfilled relationships in adulthood, SRE for 16+ pupils should include advice on how to achieve mutually-fulfilling, high quality sex; including the emotional and erotic value of foreplay; the multitude of erogenous zones and how to excite them; and methods to achieve good orgasms for one’s self and one’s partner.

Live & Let Live
Human sexuality embraces a glorious diversity of emotions and desires. We are all unique, with our own individual erotic tastes. People are sexually fulfilled in a huge variety of different ways. Providing behaviour is consensual, between adults, where no one is harmed and the enjoyment is reciprocal, schools should adopt a non-judgemental ‘live and let live’ attitude.

Education From The First Year Of Primary School
SRE needs to be age-appropriate; starting from the early years of primary school by talking about body changes at puberty and, to tackle abuse, about inappropriate touching. It needs to become more detailed and explicit at secondary level. The reason for starting so young is that most children now begin puberty between the ages of eight and 12. Long beforehand, they need to know about the physical changes they will undergo and the desires they will develop. Keeping them ignorant jeopardises their happiness and welfare. Early knowledge is the key to later wise, responsible sexual behaviour.

Respect For Sexual Diversity
Our desires and temperaments are not the same. There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ when it comes to sex, love and relationships. That is why teachers have a duty to validate the diversity of adult sex and relationships that fall within the ethical framework of mutual consent, respect and fulfilment.

Overcoming Sex Shame To Tackle Abuse
Sexual guilt causes immense human misery – not just frustrated, unhappy sex lives, but actual psychological and physical ill-health. It also helps sustain child abuse. Adults who sexually exploit youngsters often get away with it because the victims feel embarrassed or guilty about sex and are therefore reluctant to report it. SRE needs to encourage young people to have more open, positive attitudes towards sexual matters. Teenagers who feel at ease talking about sex are more likely to disclose abuse.

Mandatory Lessons & A Revised Parental ‘Opt Out’
Sex and relationships are very important in most people’s lives. That’s why education about them should be a mandatory part of the curriculum in every school. SRE lessons should be at least monthly all throughout a child’s school life – not once a term or once a year. Moreover, we don’t let parents take their kids out of maths or history, so why should a parental ‘opt out’ be permitted for SRE? At the very least, parents who want to withdraw their children should be required to come to each lesson and physically remove their child. This way the parental ‘opt out’ option is retained but the actual ‘opt out’ rate is reduced.

Over to the Education Secretary. Nicky Morgan, please ensure that SRE lessons are a statutory requirement in all schools and that they start addressing these issues.

* Peter Tatchell contributed to “Teenage Sex: What should schools teach children?” Hodder & Stoughton, £5.99. For more information about the Peter Tatchell Foundation’s human rights work, to receive email bulletins or to make a donation:

Different Families, Same Love

Pro-Family Poster

Look: ‘Different Families, Same Love’ poster set to go into each Irish school

By John Mack Freeman

Just in time for same sex marriages to begin in Ireland in the next two months, a new poster has been released by the government that will go into each school. Called “Different Families, Same Love” (and featured above), it shows the full diversity of families, hopefully exposing children to the idea that family means a lot of different things. Via PinkNews:

Launching the poster, Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan directed: “This practical resource will be invaluable to teachers in creating inclusive classrooms. It will also aid in successfully implementing the compulsory Anti-Bullying Procedures.

“These procedures require every school in the country to engage in preventative and educational strategies to tackle homophobic and transphobic bullying. This poster will contribute to the work that primary schools are already doing in this regard and furthermore sends out a clear message to the LGBT children and LGBT-headed families of our society that they are welcome and cherished in our schools.”

General Secretary of the INTO Sheila Nunan added: “The INTO strongly endorses this poster and its use in all primary school classrooms.

“This resource sends an affirming and welcoming message to LGBT children and LGBT-headed families.

School Is In: The Q in LGBTQ



By Elizabeth Gartley

Often, when I’m speaking with educators about LGBTQ topics, one of the first questions I’m asked is “What does the Q stand for?” The primary definition that I provide is that “Q” stands for “questioning.” By acknowledging those who are questioning, we acknowledge those people, particularly young people, who for one reason or another, have not adopted an identity label, such as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, and yet may still experience same-sex attraction or may not identify wholly with the gender identity they have been assigned.* This “Q” is easy to overlook, and yet particularly important to remember, especially for those who work with young people and in light of recent research.

A recent study by YouGov found that a third of young Americans (18 to 29 year-olds) don’t consider themselves “exclusively heterosexual.” Participants were asked to place themselves on the Kinsey Scale, a scale from 0 (exclusively heterosexual) to 6 (exclusively homosexual). A third of adults 18 to 29 placed themselves somewhere other than exclusively heterosexual, indicating some level of same-sex attraction. Interestingly, the survey data shows that while 10 percent of young adults identified themselves as bisexual, 29 percent placed themselves somewhere on the Kinsey scale other than “exclusively hetersexual” or “exclusively homosexual.” Overall, the study also concluded that younger adults were much more likely to acknowledge some level of fluid sexual attractions compared to older age brackets.

The biennial Youth Risk Behavior Survey in Massachusetts has consistently found that more students in grades nine to 12 identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual and/or report same-sex sexual contact than those who only identify themselves as gay, lesbian, or bisexual. For example, in 2013, 5 percent of all students identified as gay, lesbian or bisexual, but 8 percent identified as gay, lesbian, or bisexual and/orreported same-sex sexual contact. And a 2013 study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research concluded that conventional survey methods lead to “substantial under-reporting of LGBT identity and behaviors” due to “social desirability bias,” that is, the tendency for people to not give responses they feel may be outside the mainstream.

As an educator, I find these kinds of studies interesting because I often find that many of my straight colleagues, teachers and school librarians, are somewhat naive in their assumptions about the LGBTQ students they serve. One of the messages I try to impart to my colleagues is that LGBTQ students are in their classrooms, whether they, as educators, are aware of them or not. Many times, teachers seem surprised by the suggestion that there are usually at least one or two LGBTQ students in every class they teach. There seems to be an implicit assumption among many educators that they will know when they have LGBTQ students in their classroom, as though to be LGBTQ, students must be publicly out to all in the school community.

“But no one in this class is gay,” is the kind of assumption that gets made without even the awareness that an assumption has been made, and this is what I try to challenge. Fortunately, in my experience, this isn’t a difficult bias to tackle; even a little bit of reflection will have people rethinking their assumptions.

In a recent Knowledge Quest article, Wendy Rickman surveyed Arkansas school library professionals and found that most responded that there were no self-identified LGBTQ students in their school, but a majority of respondents felt that there were LGBTQ students who had not yet self-identified. However, the survey also found that a majority of respondents were reluctant to purchase LGBTQ items for the library collection.

Educators, especially school librarians, have a responsibility to help students explore the world beyond their experience and to help students find themselves. School librarian’s strive to create a safe environment where students can learn more about who they are, to explore their interests and identities. We can’t wait for our LGBTQ students to be out, leading the GSA and advocating for themselves before we provide the resources they need. For those students who are LGBTQ but not out, or who are questioning, or who maybe aren’t ready to take LGBTQ-themed books out of the library yet, just seeing the resources are available will help them feel like they belong.

School librarians have a great opportunity to help normalize LGBTQ lives and experiences and portray sexual and gender diversity has part of the human experience. By creating a more inclusive collection and integrating LGBTQ titles into book talks, library displays, and reader’s advisory, all students will benefit: out LGBTQ students will see themselves reflected in their school library, straight students will see a more accurate representation of the diversity in the world, and “Q” students will see that they are not alone in their experiences.
*The Q in LGBTQ is often intended to simultaneously stand for “questioning” as well as “queer,” a loaded word which was once considered a slur, but has in recent decades been reclaimed by LGBT activists as an umbrella term or in some cases, a label an individual may adopt when more recognizable identity labels don’t seem to fit.

Irish school 'postpones' anti-gay bullying workshops

Coláiste Eoin The school postponed an anti-homophobic bullying workshop following complaints from parents

A school in Dublin has postponed an anti-homophobic bullying workshop following complaints from parents.

A charity, Shout Out, was due to give the workshop to 120 transition year students (15-16 year olds) on Tuesday.

The workshops were called off after facilitators arrived at Coláiste Eoin and were told about the complaints.

The school, in Stillorgan, said they plan to reschedule the workshops but as of yet have made no contact with the group.

The principal of the all boys school, Finín Máirtín, initially said that the “other side” needed to be represented.

The school later clarified that he meant ‘other view points which have been expressed’.


Shout Out, a lesbian gay bisexual and transgender education charity, deliver workshops about anti homophobic bullying and say they educate pupils about tolerance and respect.

Declan Meehan from Shout Out said they were “disappointed” that the school had cancelled the workshop.

“We’ve been to the school twice before and never had a problem before,” he said.

Jan O'Sullivan

The Irish Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan has said she is disappointed that the workshop was postponed

The Irish Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan has said she is disappointed that the workshop was postponed

“Our priority is to deliver the workshop and we will accept any invitation to return to the school.”

The school declined to be interviewed but did release a statement.

“On this particular occasion the board of management have received written communications from a number of parents outlining their concerns regarding the workshop,” they said.

“In this context it was incumbent on the board to address all issues and to seek the advice available from Catholic management representative bodies available to secondary schools.

Language and tolerance

“It is proposed to invite Shout Out to make their presentation at a future date in the course of the current academic year.

“Coláiste Eoin is a Catholic school and as such endeavours to promote a caring, tolerant and inclusive school community.”

The Irish Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan said she was “disappointed” that the workshops had been postponed.

Ms O’Sullivan said she hopes the school will “reschedule these important workshops in the near future”.

The Shout Out workshops are led by volunteers aged 20-25 who have experience of being an LGBT young person going through school.

A heterosexual person also takes part in the workshop and use of appropriate language and tolerance are discussed.

They have delivered workshops to more than 60 schools over the last 18 months.