Sex Education In School: Pupils 'Should Be Taught About Pleasurable Aspects Of Sex'

14/08/2014 17:01 | Updated 20 May 2015

Sex education

Schools should teach children about the 'pleasurable aspects of sex', according to an academic.

Mark McCormack, a lecturer in applied social sciences at Durham University said sex education lessons should not only cover the risks of sexual activity but should also 'acknowledge the rewards'.

Dr McCormack, co-director of the university's Centre for Sex, Gender and Sexualities, also said classes had to recognise the part sexuality plays in social life.

He made his remarks on academic website The Conversation, where he said the subject of sex was covered in mediums as diverse as Shakespeare's sonnets, a Tchaikovsky symphony, episodes of EastEnders and songs from the pop star Rihanna. He said pupils should be able to translate the references.

Sexual health charities have drawn up guidance which makes a series of recommendations, including teaching pupils about the dangers of pornography and 'sexting'.

But Dr McCormack said the guidance did not go far enough. He said it was essential that all schools protect and support 'sexual minority students' by accommodating the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and 'questioning youth'.

He also insisted lessons need to 'recognise the pleasurable aspects of sex, sexuality and desire, in a manner that does not solely measure the risks of sexual activity without acknowledging the rewards'.

He added: "But more than this, we need to move beyond sex education to sexuality education that engages with the centrality of sexuality to social life.

"From Shakespeare's sonnets to episodes of Eastenders, and from Rihanna's latest single to a Tchaikovsky symphony, we are more rounded, fully realised people when we are able to engage with sexuality in a mature and sophisticated manner."

But his ideas came under fire from family campaigners.

Norman Wells, director of the Family Education Trust, said: "It is short-sighted and irresponsible to focus on the pleasures that sexual intimacy can bring without taking account of the longer-term physical and mental health consequences.

"The advocates of lessons in sexual pleasure have not thought through the implications of pursuing a hedonistic lifestyle for the future happiness of young people.

"If we are interested in promoting secure marriages, stable families and strong communities, sexual pleasure should never be promoted as a 'right' or as an end in itself."

What do you think? Are sex ed classes too preoccupied with pregnancy and sexual disease prevention, rather than establishing the positives?

Shouldn't it be the role of parents to talk about sex, backed up by a school programme?


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