All the way through school, every sex education lesson I’ve sat through has been taught from the point of view that boys and girls grow up to marry: and I’m going to tell you why that’s an unhealthy and inaccurate message to put forwards.
For starters, there are many people who this one-size-fits-all style of teaching doesn’t apply to. Many of the children in the classroom will grow up to find a partner of the same sex.
As a teenager trapped in the system, I can honestly say that the lessons set aside to talk about the Birds and the bees are hugely uncomfortable, and at the same time, highly amusing. In an all-girls school, the assortment of euphemisms alongside pinging condoms across the classroom provides an excellent hour of entertainment.
I understand that one of the main purposes of introducing sex education was to raise awareness of contraception among young people, and prevent unwanted teenage pregnancies. But, as defined by the curriculum, this is sex and relationships education-many thousands of young people would benefit from in-depth discussions of the values of healthy relationships. And that includes those of a same-sex nature.
“It’s offensive to some people’s religious rights”, is a counter-argument I often hear. Sigh. Whilst religion has an unreasonable amount of control in society, if we turn this statement on it’s head, it would be perfectly reasonable to suggest that discriminating against sexual orientation is indeed offensive to some people’s human rights.
Let me give you an example: somebody comes up to you as you’re about to sink your teeth into that greatly appreciated mid-morning snack, and says “I’m on a diet, therefore I will be thoroughly offended if you eat a doughnut”. It doesn’t work like that, does it? Whilst they, as an individual, have the right to abstain from the blissful delight that is doughnut munching, that does not mean that everybody around them should have to sacrifice the pleasure. You see, It’s the same thing. If you want to live life only dating someone of the opposite sex, do so. No one’s forcing you to go fall in love with someone of the same gender.
For me, deciding not to label my sexuality and, instead, looking for an ideal person feels like the perfect way to live. It’s very liberating to be in a room with varied human beings and just feel free to fancy anyone without any immediate urge to define myself. And at the end of the day, it’s just a case of who has a willy and who doesn’t have a willy. It really is meaningless, and one of the reasons why I refuse to conform is because I couldn’t care less. Who in their right mind would care?
But I remember a time when I was younger, where I felt greatly upset as I would listen to the teacher telling the class about romantic relationships, but not mentioning those that are between a man and a man or a woman and a woman. And as I’ve got older, nothing’s changed. I’ve just become wiser.
But that’s not the way it should be: we need to be teaching children from early ages that there is no right or wrong way to feel.
A couple of months ago, I proposed my ideas to one of mye teachers, who told me “We’ll be looking at same sex relationships next year.” Why, may I ask? Who is that going to help? At fifteen, the damage of mainstream society has already been done. And, more importantly, what are they going to say? I can imagine the lesson in my head now: “Good morning girls, today we will learn about gay people.” Which, in my opinion, is just as damaging.
My main point is that there doesn’t need to be separate lessons on same sex relationships. Just incorporate it into the normal, planned curriculum. Just by using terms such as “boyfriend or girlfriend” could potentially make a profound difference.
And it’s not only sex education that this should apply to-if every teacher in every school began using non-gender specific terms, children from a young age would hopefully begin to grow up to be more open and accepting.