Liverpool Echo, sex

Bananas! And I don’t mean that classroom condom talk either

Picture: Anna Sastra/Unsplash.com

SO, let’s be clear from the get-go: we are long past the point of arguing about whether there should be sex education in schools.

Or at least we should be.

I mean, have you seen the rate of teenage pregnancies in the UK? Have you checked out the high numbers of STIs in school leavers? LGBT hate crime is on the rise and don’t even get me started on the porn images our kids can now access for free online.

No, it’s a no-brainer that our kids must be equipped with the knowledge to navigate their way through growing up.

Except if you’re a member of certain parenting groups who are fighting to prevent sex education becoming a mandatory part of the curriculum.

They’ve mobilised in the wake of an announcement by the Government – taking time off from the Brexit farce to do something sensible – surrounding a package of proposed changes to sex education in schools.

New items on the agenda, as well as the banana and condom talk, will include sexting, domestic and honour-based abuse, trans issues and cyber safety.

“Almost 20 years on from the last time guidance on sex education was updated, there is a lot to catch up on,” trills the Education Secretary Damian Hinds.

I’ll say.

And yet we have a protest lobby urging MPs to offer parents the ability to withdraw children from sex education classes, arguing mums and dads have a “fundamental right” to decide when their offspring have the birds and the bees talk.

Oh, come on people.

The birds and bees aren’t the half of it. If you feel able to talk about female genital mutilation as you cook the fish fingers, then good on you. I’m not.

Do these people want a return to a cosy past when sex ed consisted of some dodgy anatomical drawings, a frankly laughable animated film and a flustered biology teacher?

If so, they’re mad. It was flawed then and that was before the internet with its twisted take on porn and how women “should” behave, and its mixed messages about sex, love and respect. No social media in the 1980s with its potential for bullying on the basis of how you look or who you fancy. 

Here, in 2019, sex and relationships are more complex, more varied, more inter-connected with identity and mental health than ever. A chat about mummies and daddies and how they make babies just won’t cut it any more.

So, new items on the curriculum will include sexting, domestic and honour-based abuse, trans issues and cyber safety.

Not a moment too soon.

Of course, parents should play a part in helping their kids understand their bodies. In an ideal world we’d all be equipped to have “the conversation” with our offspring and answer any question they throw at us.

But this isn’t an ideal world and many adults simply aren’t comfortable chatting about sex, let alone the law on consent.

Which is where schools come in. They must fill that vacuum.

I understand why there is opposition to these sex topics being introduced.

But keeping crucial information away from the very people who need it most is a fast track to disaster.

IT BEING spring and all, I decided to clear out what estate agents might call our spare room but which is actually just a holding area for where memories go to die.

Every family has one. Under the stairs, in the loft, stacked in a cupboard. A place where pieces of our lives, no longer current but somehow too important to throw away, are stored.

Too important, that is, until you start to fear you’ll feature on the next series of The Hoarder Next Door and are forced to take action.

And so it was on a sunny Saturday afternoon when I opened the door, a pile of bin-bags in hand, to begin the purge.

First up, drawers with enough princess ballgowns to dress the set of the next Disney blockbuster. Then it was the bags of teddies, consigned for too long to a life of vacuum-packed hell (I’ve seen Toy Story, the guilt kills me), old clothes (mine), old school uniform (the kids) and old crockery (my mum’s.)

People, I managed to discard a whole carrier bag-full. The rest is still there, just slightly rearranged.

That’s the trouble with hoarders. They’re sentimentalists too.