There is an age-old saying that runs through the blood of the Irish that goes like “SEX IS BAD”.
It has been bestowed upon us by the catholic church who has us believe that sex is shameful and against the will of god. For girls, that if you became pregnant without marriage you had basically spit in the will of God and therefore should be shunned away. For gays, you were made out to not actually exist. And still to this day even when we have come forward so much, there is still a huge problem in the way we talk about sex and how sex ed in Irish schools is taught.
SEX ED FOR DUMMIES.
I remember the day that we all rejoiced at the sound that we would have the talk in school because it basically just meant a day off for us. I remember the lady who walked in, old, a tight bun in her head and a sharp suit on. She looked at us dead in the eye and proclaimed to us that if we ever had sex we would rot in hell.
Okay, she didn’t actually say that, but the undertone was there. We started to discuss the changes to our bodies, the vital part of growing up. Then the sex. The way it was explained was that a man and a woman who were in love and married would do the when they finally wanted to have a baby. And that was it.
So, the problems with sex ed in Irish schools…
1.We were only allowed have sex in this one circumstance for this one reason.
This is an age-old way of thinking and should be done away with. It only reinforces the idea of not being able to have sex for just, I don’t know… Pleasure? Children become sceptical of the whole idea of it and don’t learn of the different reasons and possibilities of why one would have sex.
2. If you are gay, you will learn nothing.
For anyone going through a time where they aren’t sure about themselves and their sexuality, “The talk” in school is not going to help you one little bit. Basically, if you think or know you are gay, there will be no information for you on how sex works with a man and a man or vice versa with a woman and a woman. We are only taught about relations between a man and a woman with no mention of how it works any other way and how to protect yourself from STIs.
3. There is no consent talk.
Consent is not complicated. Everyone acts like it is something very strange and difficult to understand but it is a very straightforward concept. But it does need to be clarified, especially to young people who have only scratched the surface of the sexual world. However consent is not mentioned thoroughly in “the talk” where the basis of consensual sex lines should be set.
4. Boys and girls are separated.
There comes a time in every sex talk where the boys must leave the room because the girls will be talking about, heaven forbid, periods. Periods are a natural part of the life cycle something that should be taught to boys just as much as girls. Boys should not need to shy away from the idea of periods anymore, it is how they are made after all. Girls also have to leave the party when the talk goes to a specifically boys section. But most girls are going to need to know this information too at some point, so why the separation?
The Problem With Sex Ed In Irish Schools
In real talk; we need to update how to teach young people about sex, and make it a positive experience rather than one you go home from with even more question than which you started.
One of the biggest issues with Sex Ed in Irish schools is that it’s usually done during the tail-end of Primary Schools – 11-year-olds are not sexually active. It’s when you hit your teens and start having those feelings and begin first relationships that you need more information. Most of us know the basics about the mechanics of sex, but lack awareness on contraception, diseases and the emotional side.
Although the Irish Government kept saying that they’re going to roll-out a more robust Sex Education plan, we’re not exactly holding our breaths on this one and there are a lot of you who probably need that info ASAP. So, the only thing to do is to self-educate.