Following a report by The Oireachtas Education Committee which said that changes needed to be made to the way sex education is given in Irish schools, a new Government commissioned review has highlighted areas in which information is sorely lacking.
The Irish Times published a story about the report which was compiled from over 5,000 responses to a questionnaire sent to students, parents and teachers. The majority of pupils said that information on LGBT+ issues and sexual consent was lacking, while respondents felt that education was more fear-based – describing the dangers and risks of sex rather than any positive aspects.
This new report details the desire of students for safe spaces where they could feel free to ask questions without fear, with teachers who were comfortable with the issues. Teachers mentioned a desire for enhanced training for educators on a continuing basis and for sex education to be given more priority in schools.
There were also reports that religious schools may have changed sex education curriculum to one which better suited their own ethos through existing laws which give them the right to do so. There was a broad consensus among those surveyed who said all sex education should be inclusive and age and developmentally appropriate and delivered in a holistic manner.
The State advisory board will now take this report into consideration during their review on whether the sex education delivered in schools is in need of updating.
Past reports have said that the current sex education curriculum, which was introduced in 1999, is outdated, setting heterosexual relationships as the main focus, and queer relationships and different gender identities are rarely if ever, touched upon. Any new curriculum should include sex education geared towards those with intellectual disabilities, and deal with issues such as contraception, LGBT+ identities, sexually transmitted infections, information around abortion, pornography, consent, psycho-sexual issues and gender equality.
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