Youth Comment

When I was at secondary school I had the very good fortune to be
taught about sex in a way that was relevant, rational, and perhaps
best of all, not sanctimonious, writes Simon

It seems clear to me that sex should not just be taught about as
part of biology, since the relative strength of insects’ mandibles
has considerably less bearing on our lives than our sexual
practices. But what I am wary of is a shift too far in the other

Presently, the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority says that,
as well as teaching the dangers of irresponsible sex, an important
aim of SRE is to encourage students to understand moral behaviour
including “the importance of marriage for family life and bringing
up children”.

Not only does this seem to be enforcing an outdated
homo-heterosexual marital paradigm, but it also takes sex from one
realm of irrelevance to another if taken too far. For most young
people, thoughts about marriage and moral repercussions are as far
from their minds when they begin having sex as the intricate
workings of the ovaries.

And as long as you are having sex responsibly, there is no reason
that you should be concerned with either of these (in reality)
peripheral things. After all, where biology keeps real sex
unmentioned, often morality makes real sex unmentionable.

If taught well, “moral behaviour” should be no more or less than
respect and openness for and with your partner. But by bringing in
marriage, education loads sex with meanings that it does not
intrinsically have and casts promiscuity into the shadows of

Promiscuity is not the same as irresponsibility, and responsible
young people who can find themselves in situations from pregnancy
to just wanting an HIV test should not be made to feel wrong for
not conforming to a stereotype that is rapidly dwindling in

Simon Demetriou is 19

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