Parents want their children taught about “respect for themselves and each other, consent, sexual orientation, contraception, STIs and the biological aspects of sexual health”, according to a major new survey of attitudes towards school sex education.
The survey of several thousand teachers, parents and pupils took place under the auspices of the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA). The Irish Catholic has seen a copy of the as-yet unreleased survey.
The NCCA is reviewing how Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) is taught. There have been calls for a revised programme to include lessons on consent, sexual orientation, transgender issues, abortion and pornography.
The Oireachtas Education Committee has said RSE should be taught in an “objective, effective and factual” way and that school ethos should not be a “barrier” to this.
Potentially, a revised RSE programme could clash with the ethos of Catholic schools if taught in certain ways.
The survey says that many pupils believe RSE is currently overly focused on abstinence, that is delaying sex, and risk, that is avoiding unwanted pregnancies and STIs.
However, many pupils also said they wanted to hear about contraception, STIs, ‘safe sex’ and protection, in addition to ‘LGBTQ+ and sexual orientation, healthy relationships and consent.
The age of consent in Ireland is 17. The issue of consent has come more to the fore because of the #MeToo movement highlighting sexual harassment and abuse of women, as well as a high-profile Belfast rape trial last year.