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Schools ‘should teach pupils about sadomasochism’

Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell wants it to be harder for parents to remove children from sex education lessons

sex education, relationships, peter tatchell, dfe, oral sex, mutual masturbation, sadomasochism

Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell wants it to be harder for parents to remove children from sex education lessons

Teachers should talk to their pupils about sadomasochism and promote mutual masturbation and oral sex, a prominent human rights campaigner has said. 

The recommendations form part of a list of 13 practical and ethical suggestions that Peter Tatchell wants schools to follow in teaching their pupils about sex.

From September 2019, relationships education will be compulsory in all state-funded primary schools, and relationships and sex education will be mandatory in all secondary schools, but the government has yet to publish the curriculum. 

Speaking at the Festival of Education at Wellington College today, Mr Tatchell said age-appropriate sex and relationships education should take place throughout a child’s school years, but it should not be explicit at primary level.

He also said that it should be harder for parents to withdraw their children from sex education lessons, calling for a new requirement that parents attend school to physically remove their child from each lesson.

Mr Tatchell said schools should give pupils “all the facts”, including about some sexual acts that some people may dislike.

He said: “Sex education will tell the whole truth about every kind of sexual relationship, perhaps including sexual practices that some people might find distasteful, such as anal intercourse and sadomasochism.

“The purpose is not to encourage young people to do this, but to give them understanding so that if they do do it, they know what they are getting into. They know the limits, they know the risks and they can make a choice.”

Cutting teenage pregnancy

Mr Tatchell also called for schools to tell pupils about oral sex and mutual masturbation in the interests of their health.

“I think if schools were serious about cutting the incidence of teen pregnancies, abortions and HIV infections, they ought to highlight a healthier, safer alternative to vaginal and anal intercourse,” he said.

“Oral sex and mutual masturbation carry no risk of conception and a much lower risk of HIV and other STIs.

“We have got to give young people a sense that it isn’t just intercourse that’s the only way to have sex. Other forms of sex can be fulfilling as well as less risky.”

Mr Tatchell also called for children to be taught about how to have good sex, telling the audience that “sexual literacy is just as important as literacy in words and numbers”.

He added: “Good sex isn’t obvious. It has to be learned.

“To ensure happier and more fulfilled relationships in adulthood, sex and relationship education for pupils aged 16 and more should include advice on how to achieve mutually fulfilling, high-quality sex, including, for example, the emotional and erotic value of foreplay.”

Mr Tatchell’s 13 recommendations for sex education are:

  1. Teach pupils that sexual rights are human rights.
  2. Teach the right to sexual self-determination.
  3. A new ethical framework that consists of mutual consent, reciprocal respect and shared fulfilment.
  4. Promote mutual masturbation and oral sex as safe alternatives to intercourse.
  5. Sex is good for you. Mr Tatchell told the audience: “It’s natural, wholesome fun and, with safety, healthy.”
  6. Give children all the facts.
  7. Heterosexuality, bisexuality and homosexuality are all valid.
  8. Teach how to have good sex.
  9. Schools should adopt a “live and let live” stance.
  10. Education from the first year of school onwards. Mr Tatchell said it had to be age-appropriate and not explicit at primary level.
  11. Respect for sexual diversity. “I don’t think there should be a taboo on talking about something that is perhaps outside the norm," he said, citing a foot fetish as an example.
  12. Overcoming sex shame and guilt to tackle abuse. He said adults who abuse children often get away with it because their victims are too ashamed to report it. 
  13. Lessons in sex and relationships should be mandatory, with a revised parental opt-out. He said children should have SRE lessons at least every month, and parents should only be able to opt out of SRE lessons if they physically go to the school to remove their child from each lesson. He said that when this was trialled in Northern Ireland, the opt-out rate fell from 25 per cent to 1 per cent. 

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