On behalf of Sexpression:UK we wish to express our disappointment at the defeat of New Clause 20 of the Children and Families Bill. The amendment read by Lisa Nandy set out obligations for schools and colleges to provide a programme of PSHE and that this should include a programme of Sex and Relationships education (SRE). The amendment was defeated by 303 to 219.
Sexpression:UK believes that this amendment would have gone along way to address the health and wellbeing of the young people in the UK. The current framework of optional SRE programmes supports a system of national inequity amongst our young people, the haves and have nots. Young people are presented with sexual material, sex and relationship decisions each and every day. Education about healthy relationships and consent would provide context to these encounters and go some way to prevent many of the problems that young people encounter in relation to sex, such as violence and consent .
Sexpression:UK would like to endorse the efforts of the organisations which campaigned raise awareness of New Clause 20, with a special mention to the Everyday Sexism project who published personal testimonials of how damaging the current lack of SRE and the effect this had amongst members of the public. The #Yes2NC20 stream was alive with organisations, politicians and members of the public, all demonstrating their support for the clause.
Despite the defeat, this is not the end of efforts to ensure young people are given what they need to navigate their way to a happy and healthy sex life. What the debate demonstrated is that this is an issue that crosses party lines. With Dr. Sarah Wollaston (conservative MP for Totnes) making compelling arguments in favour of the amendment and Stella Creasy (Labour MP for Walthamstow) questioning how certain parts of the curriculum that pertain to gardening were more relevant than Sex and Relationship Education. Unfortunately this seems to have fallen on the deaf ears of the majority.
Despite this setback Sexpression:UK will continue campaign for statutory Sex and Relationship Education along with our colleagues in Sex Education Forum. This a vital issue and we cannot let those who are sworn to act in out best interests continue to disadvantage young people of the UK. As Sarah Wollaston MP herself said “sometimes something has to be counted to count.
Sex Ed Matters and it is up to young people, parents, teachers, advocates and voters to tell politicians why.