Tuesday, 11 June 2013

There is more to sex than biology and our young people need that message in schools

I am really disappointed that the Conservatives, including my own MP, didn't vote for an amendment to a bill today that would have put respect in relationships on the national curriculum and ensured our young people are taught about more than the mechanics of sex.  No means no - is that such a controversial message?

Many many organisations wanted this: Women’s Aid, End Violence Against Women, Brook, FamilyPlanning Association, NSPCC, The PSHE Association, No More Page3, National Union of Students, Everyday Sexism , Relate, One Plus One, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, the Trades Union Congress, the EQUALS coalition and the Terrence Higgins Trust.

I emailed the MP representing Reading West before the vote asking him to support the amendment (NC20), I will be interested to hear why he disagrees with the groups listed above.  Labour MPs supported this and our local parliamentary candidate, Victoria Groulef came out strongly in support.

My husband teaches PSHE, and he, as Stella Creasey MP, pointed out, has to teach compound interest and composting.  Both important for young people to know but I believe it is at least as important to include information about sexual relationships, consent and respect on the curriculum.


Release from Victoria below:

Reading & District Labour Party Media Release 

9 June 2013

Victoria Groulef urges Government to Say Yes to teaching Healthy Relationships in Schools
Victoria Groulef, Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for Reading West, today joined a coalition of women’s rights, education, child protection, sexual healthcare and young people’s campaign organisations in backing plans to ensure sex and relationship education is part of the National Curriculum.
Following on from widespread concerns about the sexual harassment and abuse of young people, Labour Shadow ministers have tabled a new Clause 20 for the Children and Families Bill to ensure relationship education and sexual consent is taught in schools.  It will come before Parliament on Tuesday 11 June. 
Speaking about the campaign to support the legislation Victoria said “Sadly, sexual harassment, violence and abuse affects millions of young people in Britain. I think it’s important we teach young people not only about the biology of sex but about what a healthy, loving and respectful relationship means.
 “When research has shown that around a third of young girls in our schools have experienced unwanted sexual touching and 50% don’t know who they could turn to if affected by domestic abuse, it is clear that there is more we could do to equip our young people for their relationships. I am proud to support this coalition of organisations and their campaign to make healthy relationships part of the national curriculum.”
Speaking about the campaign, Women’s Aid Ambassador Jahmene Douglas said “As the Ambassador for Children and Young People at Women’s Aid I feel passionately that young people should be taught about healthy relationships in school, and that we need to do this if we are ever going to reduce the amount of domestic violence. Following the debate in Parliament in February this Bill presents the Government with a great opportunity to ensure that all children have access to the good quality sex and relationship education they need and are asking for.”

Notes
1. This campaign has the support of Women’s Aid, End Violence Against Women, Brook, Family. Planning Association, NSPCC, The PSHE Association, No More Page3, National Union of Students, Everyday Sexism , Relate, One Plus One, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, the Trades Union Congress, the EQUALS coalition and the Terrence Higgins Trust.
2. Research by Women’s Aid shows 50% of 16-18 year olds wouldn’t know where to go to get support if affected by domestic abuse and 18% were unsure or didn’t believe slapping counted as domestic violence. YouGov found almost a third (29%) of 16-18-year-old girls say they have been subjected to unwanted sexual touching at school, and the NSPCC found that a third of girls in relationships aged 13-17 have experienced physical or sexual violence in relationships, while one in 16 of this group reported experiencing rape.
3. Polls consistently show overwhelming support amongst parents, the public and students for compulsory SRE at secondary level in particular. NAHT poll of parent www.naht.org.uk/ welcome/news-and-media/key-topics/parents-and-pupils/parentswant-schools-to-manage-dangers-of-pornography-says-survey/ and EVAW poll www.endviolenceagainstwomen.org.uk /news/98/womens-groups-urge-pm-to-takeurgent-action-to-prevent-abuse
//ENDS
For further information contact  Victoria Groulef (0797 3767290
or R&DLP Press Officer Pete Ruhemann(0782 1609206

For information on Reading Labour Party and its campaigns visit www.readinglabour.org.uk