Britain's Favorite Pervy, Erudite, Gay Uncle Stephen Fry Backs Sex-Ed Overhaul
Peter Tatchell, on behalf of the Peter Tatchell Foundation has callout the UK school system to overhaul the way they approach sex education. Their release points out that Stephen Fry has signed on to their campaign to make sex-ed a little more sex-positive.
This is very on-brand for Stephen Fry. Hopefully, the former QI presenter and national treasure will bring some traction to the movement.
We’ve included the 15 points below. For U.S. readers, note that RSE is “religious and sex education,“ a very British thing that seems similar to the American health sex education section (plus religion?).
All 15 Requests from the Plan:
1 Mandatory Lessons In Every School
Sex and relationships are a very important part of most adult’s lives. That’s why education about them should be a mandatory part of the curriculum in every school, including religious schools and schools outside the state sector. The aim should be to prepare young people for adult life by ensuring they are sexually and emotionally literate. RSE lessons should be at least monthly all throughout a child’s school life – not once a term or once a year. And the lessons should be LGBT+ inclusive.
2 Restricted Parental Opt Out
We don’t let parents take their kids out of mathematics or history classes, so why should a parental opt out be permitted for RSE? Removing pupils from such lessons jeopardises their emotional, sexual and physical health.
Parents who want to withdraw their children should be required to come to each lesson and physically remove their child and then bring them back in good time for the next lesson. This way the parental opt out option is retained but the actual opt out rate is likely to be reduced.
3 Education From The First Year Of Primary School
RSE needs to be age-appropriate; starting from the first year of primary school by talking about love and relationships, including different types of families (single parent, extended and same-gender families).
It should also discuss the correct names for body parts, physical changes at puberty – and, to tackle abuse, inappropriate touching and grooming, in order to teach children the differences between caring and exploitative behaviours.
One reason for starting at a young age is that many children now begin puberty between the ages of eight and 12. Long beforehand, they need to know about the physical and hormonal changes they will undergo and the feelings and desires they will develop. Keeping them ignorant threatens their happiness and welfare.
Children of all genders should share RSE lessons and not be segregated, to enable them to learn about each other’s bodies from the start, including boys learning about periods and girls learning about wet dreams.
4 Sex Is Good For You
RSE lessons should acknowledge the risks and dangers of sex, but from the age of 16 should also 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 sex is not essential for health and happiness. Some people are asexual. They get by without sex and that’s fine. However, pupils should be informed that most people find that regular, fulfilling sex lifts the spirit and enhances lives and relationships.
5 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.
RSE needs to encourage young people to have more open, positive attitudes towards sexual matters and to teach them how to accurately name their body parts, in order to effectively report abuse. Pupils who are knowledgeable about their bodies and feel at ease talking about sex are more likely to disclose abuse.
6 How To Have Sexual Fulfilment
Sexual literacy is important. Good sex isn’t obvious; it has to be learned. In the absence of sufficient practical information from parents and teachers on how to achieve shared sexual pleasure, to get this information many young people are turning to pornography, with its unrealistic and often degrading images.
To ensure happier, more fulfilled relationships in adulthood, RSE for pupils aged 16-plus 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 pleasure for one’s self and one’s partner. This is particularly important for boys who often know little about female sexual anatomy and how to give a female partner fulfilment.
7 New Ethical Framework: Mutual Consent, Respect & Fulfilment
It is important that RSE acknowledges diverse sexual orientations, gender identities and relationships, 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 very 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, bisexual, homo, trans or intersex.
8 Promoting Safer Alternatives: Oral Sex & Mutual Masturbation
If schools are serious about cutting the incidence of teen pregnancies, abortions and HIV and other sex infections, they should highlight to pupils aged 16 and older the various safer, healthier alternatives to vaginal and anal intercourse.
Oral sex and mutual masturbation carry no risk of conception and a much lower risk of HIV.
The most effective way to persuade teenagers to switch to these alternatives is by making them look and sound appealing, glamorous and 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 safe, oral sex can transmit sexual infections. Young people should be made aware that oral is safer than intercourse but not risk-free.
Lessons ought to also include the advice that if young people become sexually active it is recommended that that they get vaccinated against HPV and hepatitis.
9 Sexual Rights Are Human Rights
RSE should be based on, and espouse, the principle that it is a fundamental human right to love an adult person of any gender, to engage in any mutually consensual, harmless sexual act with them and to share a happy, healthy sex life. These are the sexual human rights of every person.
10 Hetero, Homo and Bi Are Equally Valid
When based on the three principles of mutual consent, respect and fulfilment between adults, all relationships with persons of any gender are equally morally valid.
While schools should not promote any particular sexual orientation, they should encourage understanding and acceptance of heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, asexual and pansexual orientations – and transgender and intersex identities. This is vital to ensure self-acceptance by pupils with such orientations or identities and to help combat prejudice, discrimination, bullying and hate crime.
11 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’ to sex and report sexual abusers.
This ethos of sexual self-determination is crucial to thwart people who attempt to pressure youngsters into unwanted sex, abusive relationships and risky sex.
12 Live & Let Live
Human sexuality embraces a glorious diversity of emotions and desires. We are all unique, with our own individual tastes. People are emotionally and 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.
13 Advice on internet safety
Widespread access to the internet and social media has exposed many young people to pornography, sexting and the risks of grooming, abuse and online harassment. These issues, and how to stay safe online, need to be a cornerstone of RSE lessons, so that teens can be aware of the dangers and protect themselves.
14 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. If they fall within the ethical framework of adult mutual consent, respect and fulfilment, it is not the business of RSE to neglect sexual diversity or to endorse sexual conformity.
15 Give Pupils All The Facts
Sex education from the age of 16 ought to tell the whole truth about every kind of sex and relationship – including sexual practices that some people may find distasteful.
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. This includes advising them of their right to refuse to participate in sexual practices that they dislike or object to.
The call has been cosigned by, in addition to Mr. Fry, Dr Elly Barnes (MBE, CEO & Founder, Educate & Celebrate), Daniel Hugill (Religious Education specialist), Annette Pryce (National Education Union LGBT+ Executive Member), Sue Sanders (Professor Emeritus, Harvey Milk Institute, Chair Schools OUT UK).
Too bad these goals seem a little far-fetched in the UK and down right im-fucking-possible in the schools of The United States—especially in the southern bits.