When he appeared last month on Jarlath Regan’s An Irishman Abroad podcast, out actor Andrew Scott (pictured) made a link between the “insidious” nature of sex education in schools and misogyny, rape and homophobia. He said: “I think if we can get rid of misogyny, we can get rid of a huge amount of homophobia. Because the idea of homophobia is founded in if you act a little bit feminine that’s a bad thing. You have to act in a particular way.”
The Minister for Education Richard Bruton’s plans for a major reform to current sex and relationship education teachings couldn’t have come at a better time. His reform stresses that not only should the meaning and importance of consent be a major factor, but that LGBT+ matters, and developments in contraception also be highlighted.
Solidarity TD Ruth Coppinger pushed the issue further, with her party drafting a Provision of Objective Sex Education Bill 2018, which includes sex education that is not gender normative, education on abortion, and insists on an objective and factual education regardless of a school’s religious ethos.
This last point, of course, is hugely important in Ireland, given that the Catholic Church controls a majority of the schools, meaning pupils receive, for want of a better term, a Catholic sex education. It is open to discussion whether we can trust those schools to deliver a fully rounded education, considering some of them still speak of the ‘gift’ of chastity.
As our interview with LGBT Ireland in this issue discusses, the findings of the LGBT+ Youth Strategy revealed half of the young people interviewed identified ongoing discrimination with 20 percent identifying bullying and harassment.
It seems ridiculous in this day and age we still put so much power in the hands of such a notoriously anti-sex and pro-shame institution as the Catholic Church to deliver this type of education to our children. The proposed overhaul of sex and relationship education can’t come quick enough.