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Tuesday , 5 July 2022

Peter Tatchell: Time for a radical rethink of sex education

Peter Tatchell
Peter Tatchell

It’s time for radical rethink of sex education to ensure sexual health and happiness.

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.


Peter Tatchell gave the speech at the Quaker Meeting House in Edinburgh, as part of the Just Festival, Tuesday 9 August .

He appealed to John Swinney, Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, and the UK’s Education Secretary, Justine Greening to ensure that much improved SRE lessons are a statutory requirement in all schools and are LGBTI-inclusive.

About Peter Tatchell

Peter Tatchell
Peter Tatchell is a human rights campaigner, a member of the LGBTI rights group OutRage! and the left wing of the Green party. He is also director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation, a human rights organisation

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  1. Bernie is on the attack again. He’s also quoting you out of context, unsurprisingly.


  2. Young kids have enough to deal with. Seriously, and as a medical professional, why teach them things that have a negative medical impact. When they are older, there is enough resources to learn from whith an adult brain. We are trying to make kids grow up too fast. Let children enjoy thier childhood.

  3. Adam Brereton Its good to see that the pedophiles are finally standing up so that our kids can be exposed to being molested and raped and having no legal rights whatsoever as this will be taught in schools as classwork and homework maybe they should arrange a school camp in Ararat and also in the prisons where people who have been charged for rape and child pornography are so they can get a better understanding of what sex they really are. Do you really think that this movement is about being Gay? No its about letting our children being exposed to pedophilia. This closet pedophiles are leading you down a garden path into their dark closed off store room where they want to trap your children in and so they will one day believe that being raped is a normal thing. We are already falling for the gay marriage thing where one day two pedophiles can live together and have a open relationship and hold children to their sick and twisted and perverse sense of ways. Will one day you say sorry to these children? I don’t think you will Australia and if you ever do well it will be too late. Just asked anyone that has been forced into sex if they enjoyed it!

    • Exactly! Do people really not understand this? Do they not realise that this agenda is being pushed because the homosexuals that run Top level government, whom are put there on purpose by the elite so they can easily be bribed have been told to push this. The homosexuals want to be able to do this out in the open with the blessing of an ignorant society and the elite want legal access to your kids for their satanic sacrifices. It’s much easier for them this way, you see they won’t have as much mess to clean up like they do when they kidnap them from the foster homes, institutions, hospitals and schools etc…wake up Australia! The policies being put in place now are literally removing your rights as parents and giving the government total control of your kids and this will start before birth. Do you know there are plans under way for a government worker to be assigned to every child born and this worker will be ensuring that you are raising your child according to what the government says is the correct way to raise them? Do you realise your kids are being indoctrinated at school with common core outcome based teaching methods which actually hold them back from learning because the corporations owned by the elite are writing the worldwide school curriculums that are sent from the United Nations to our school boardsand they don’t want Nations of thinkers, they want Nations of robot workers who just do what they are told? Parents wake up because one day very soon all your parental rights will be gone along with any semblance of morality you may have wished to teach them. The state won’t allow your child to know what the true meaning of morality is.

      • I left out an important fact. The lgbt community is also being used to push this agenda and believe me, you will suffer the same fate as the rest of us. A lot of people in your community realise this. Some are scared to voice this others are desperately trying to do what they can to stop this hijack. Please see the bigger picture. It’s not about straight versus non straight. That is a divisory tactic to stop everyone whether straight or gay from seeing the bigger picture. If you do enough research on the foundations of the start of the gay lobby you will find the truth about it. We all need to work together against “them” not against each other because in the end it won’t matter. We will all be subject to the same prison of no rights. All this division between groups of people whether Black White, gay straight, old young etc are the very reasons they will use to impose their one world order, one and the same rules for all. Ie a police state with no freedom aside from what the government decides to let us do. Neither side will be happy with this my reality growing up through the 70s us kids on the whole just accepted each other and if our friends turned out gay it didn’t matter. It was already being accepted by our generation and I saw no more bullying towards these kids whom were mostly our friends anyway than the fat kid or the dumb kid or the ugly kid or anyone else that we stupidly taunted when we were kids. My point being that it seemed society was already accepting of gay people…maybe not the older generation, but now the oldies are ones that grew up and still have gay friends. Now there is an agenda and like all the other agendas at the moment it has a reason and point of origin and it has absolutely nothing to do with bullying or gay rights…and every thing to do with removing everyones rights and allowing the small minority of sick people of any sexual orientation that pray on children to have legal access to our kids. And that includes children from lgbt families so please give some consideration to what it’s really all about. It will be to late to band together after its done

  4. This is how Peter Tatchell sees it. And the reason why he sees it this way is because he has adopted a way of life that has as its central tenet, sex. Therefore he wants everyone to be fully informed about sex of any kind so that the pool of sex partners is enlarged especially young sex partners which is what homosexuals depend upon as youth and beauty are central to homosexul men.

    His one eyed view of sex being the be all and end all of life is however, not necessarily that which the rest of the world is focused on. Yes sex is important but so is happiness, wellbeing, marriage, family children, giving and so on. All these things make up the totality of a human being and without them you are emotionally stunted.

    I say this because if you are focused on one thing as Peter Tatchell is, you are setting yourself up for a fall, as no one thing can keep you happy all the time. In fact, the number of suicides amongst homosexuals is evidence of the disappointment they experience on a regular basis. Being constantly rejected by your own kind as a lot of homosexuals are is not going to give you a fulfilled and productive life and fleeting and furtive encounters as so much homosexual sexual encounters are is going to leave you very dissatisfied.

    So my advice to you Peter Tatchell is, go and talk to your own kind and leave the education of our children to those who know what is normal and natural and what is best for them, not what is best for you.

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