BYC and leading youth organisations call for statutory sex education in all party manifestos 16th October 2014

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The British Youth Council and UK Youth Parliament today announced that they have joined the Sex Education Forum’s campaign – ‘SRE – It’s My Right‘ – along with leading youth organisations: UK Youth and the NUS, to urge all political parties to commit to statutory sex and relationship education (SRE) in their manifestos for the general election.

Statutory status would allow SRE to be treated as other subjects – with teachers getting the training they need, and enough time being allocated in school time-tables for the subject to address real life issues including respectful relationships and consent.

The call comes as the Education Select Committee prepares to hear evidence about the quality of SRE in schools and whether or not personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education ought to be statutory.

NUS Vice President Colum McGuire said:

“Sex and relationships education (SRE) is failing millions. It is not currently compulsory for schools to teach young people about sexual consent and healthy relationships, and LGBT relationships often get neglected altogether. Issues such as online pornography or abuse remain unaddressed.

“Ignoring all of this is just completely unrealistic. It will never go away – its life. Sexual consent, learning about equal and respectful relationships, gender stereotypes and skills such as media literacy and communication need to be part of every young person’s education.

“For NUS, representing seven million students, means we understand the realities of students’ lives and we knew that it was vital to call for statutory sex education in the NUS general election manifesto – A new deal for the next generation – and becoming a member of Sex Education Forum strengthens this call.”

UK Youth Major Programmes Lead Steve Turner, said:

“We are seeing an increasing demand from youth workers and other professionals for support on addressing issues such as digital safety, the impact of internet pornography in young people, and safeguarding.

“We believe that this is due to the disparity of provision of SRE in PSHE in schools, as it is not a compulsory subject. The current government SRE guidance was published in 2000 and yet it is clear that with the increasing access that young people have to the internet, and the means to do this through smart phones and tablets, that young people need safeguarding through education about the dangers.

“We have¬† joined the Sex Education Forum as a core member and fully support the ‘SRE – It’s my right’ campaign, as we believe that it is vital that all young people have access to robust SRE as part of PSHE, and that PSHE becomes compulsory, so there is an end to the current lottery of provision.

Ife Grillo, British Youth Council Trustee and Member of the UK Youth Parliament, said:

“The British Youth Council and the UK Youth Parliament both support the Sex and Relationships Education – ‘It’s My Right’ campaign because these are issues young people have been calling for to be established year after year. It’s not enough for a piecemeal approach to whether these subjects are taught. It’s the right of every individual to access good education about sex and relationships, and for this fundamental life skill to be regarded as a priority alongside academic subjects. A good education is meant to give young people the ability to make informed choices about their future and their present and this couldn’t be more accurate than when looking at sex and relationships education.”

Lucy Emmerson, Coordinator of the Sex Education Forum, said:

“We are delighted to have the combined support of NUS, UK Youth and the UK Youth Parliament for our ‘SRE – It’s my right’ campaign. Young people have been vocal in their calls for better sex and relationships education for over a decade, and today’s announcement shows a strength in numbers, which must be recognised by all political parties as they consider their commitments on education”.

 

About The Sex Education Forum

The Sex Education Forum is the national authority on sex and relationships education (SRE) and is hosted by the National Children’s Bureau. We believe that good quality SRE is an entitlement for all children and young people and we are working with our member organisations – including religious, children’s, parents, health and education organisations – to achieve this. For further information visit:¬†www.sexeducationforum.org.uk