Students send Valentine’s cards to MPs demanding compulsory sex and relationships education

Natasha Valentino

Jeremy Corbyn woke up this morning to a Valentine’s Card with a rainbow heart and a personalised message… but not from who you’d expect.

Over 400 cards were sent to MPs in a bid to change the law on sex and relationships education (SRE), which would see young people receive religiously diverse and LGBT+ inclusive lessons.

Current government guidelines were updated in 2000 and only require state schools to provide their students with SRE – leaving those in private education ignorant to the realities of sex, relationships, and gender in the 21st Century.

Tory MPs recently blocked the request; however, Parliament are due to vote to amend the Children and Social Work bill later this month.

This move was a joint effort in a partnership between the Terrence Higgins Trust, National Student Pride and NUS LGBT+.

Research by the Terrence Higgins Trust found that 95% of students were not taught about LGBT+ relationships and that 75% were not taught about sexual consent – resulting in 99% of young people backing the campaign to make SRE compulsory.

Natasha Valentino

Charlie Mathers, 20, student at Westminster University, said: “My SRE was the stereotypical split up of boys and girls, where we all watched the same video of how babies were made. There was also an awkward picture book. That was it.”

He added: “I think that fear comes from not understanding, so inclusive sex and relationships education could help with prevent things like homophobia. My life would have been better with more SRE.”

Campaigns officer at the Terrence Higgins Trust, Alex Phillips, highlighted the fact that the lack of SRE causes health risks in young people.

She said: “By excluding them, they may turn off and not think condoms are relevant for them and then not have great sexual health,” and added “from an emotional point of view, it can be very detrimental to their mental health if they are sitting in a classroom and the focus is on heteronormative relationships.”

With the decreasing popularity of Valentine’s Day cards, Phillips suggests that these cards “actually mean something.”

Words Liam Taft

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