A 2019 study by ellaOne® found that:
- More than a third (35%) of over 1,000 18-35 year olds wanted to learn about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender topics and relationships during their sex education.
- However, only 17% reported having learned about these topics.
- Additionally, two in five (36%) men said they didn’t learn about periods or the menstrual cycle during sex education, compared to one in five (19%) women.
Four years later, how inclusive and comprehensive is sex education? The UK government is currently reviewing relationship and sex education in schools, following reports of ‘inappropriate lessons’ being taught. The review will be completed by the end of 2023.
According to the latest poll, some of the topics that were not covered enough or at all in sex education include:
- power imbalances in relationships (58%),
- pornography (58%),
- culture and faith-based perspectives (57%),
- LGBTQ± relevant information (54%),
- the attitudes and behaviour of boys and men towards women and girls (55%),
- and what a healthy relationship looks like, including online relationships (54%).
The Challenges and Opportunities of Sex Education in Schools
Nicole Rodden, co-founder of Life Lessons, an organisation that supports schools to deliver outstanding relationships and health education, says:
I used to teach RS and philosophy, and then PSHE. There were many challenges in terms of teachers not feeling confident to have these conversations (around sex and relationships). And as a result, some children missed out on these conversations completely, because the teacher didn’t have the tools or the confidence to do so. Traditional relationships and sex education used to be very negative, like those memes saying ‘don’t have sex because you’re going to get pregnant and die’.
Sex Education for All: The Need for Inclusion and Diversity
Sexual health education is a fundamental right for everyone, including disabled students. However, too often, disabled students are excluded from planned sexual health education. This can happen actively, such as when someone says ‘they don’t need this information because they are [insert disability]’, which is completely false. It can also happen passively, such as when education is not provided in a way that is accessible and meaningful for the disabled student. For example, an autistic student may need more repetition, practice, and interactive examples to fully understand a concept. This is often not done. Due to historical marginalisation and discrimination, disabled people are often infantilized and denied information, including sexual health information. Knowledge is power, and disabled students deserve to have the power to develop a sexual identity and engage in sexual behaviour that is safe, healthy, and fulfilling for them. (Landa Fox, a Canadian sex educator)
The Importance of LGBTQ+ Representation in Sex Education
Traditionally, LGBTQ voices weren’t included (in sex education). It’s very important that we teach a curriculum that represents the young people in our care, because otherwise it won’t be relatable or relevant. We amplify young people’s voices, and that includes young people from LGBTQ backgrounds. We often get many applications from young people from LGBTQ backgrounds, because in the past they haven’t been represented or heard in traditional RSE. We know that young people from LGBTQ backgrounds are more likely to face discrimination or bullying. And so we talk explicitly about how we can support each other in the classroom.(Nicole)
ellaOne® is committed to providing inclusive sex education through their website ellaone.co.uk. In addition to information about emergency contraception, they also provide content on safe online dating, the history and future of sex toys, and the innovators who are trying to bring sex education into the 21st century.
ellaOne’s platform offers inclusive, medically backed, judgement free information and articles around contraception, sex and relationships. They are committed to promoting a wide range of voices, including LGBTQ+, disabled and people of colour. You can find out more about ellaOne by reading their magazine, listening to their podcast and keeping up with them on TikTok.
ellaOne is a morning after pill*. It works by delaying ovulation and can prevent pregnancy up to five days after unprotected sex or contraceptive failure. It is available without prescription from pharmacies and online via ellaOne Direct (https://ellaonedirect.co.uk/). ellaOne consists of one film-coated tablet containing 30 mg ulipristal acetate. Always read the label.
This article is adapted from a Press Release from ellaOne®