Sinn Féin spokesperson on Education Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD has today reiterated calls for comprehensive, robust and open sexual education in schools.
His comments come after a recent report by the Economic and Social Research Institute and the Health Service Executive highlighted major concerns about sex education currently being provided.
Teachta Ó Laoghaire said:
“Its no secret that sex ed in this state has long been totally inadequate. While improvements have been made, we are still hearing stories from some schools of education that is misguided, incorrect, or incomplete, avoids some of the key issues, and does not give students and teenagers the guidance and information they need.
“The recent report shows that there are significant variations in the content and scope of Relationship and Sexuality Education (RSE) across schools.
“As a large group of young people have been shown in this research to not be receiving any information at home, it is more important than ever that school-based RSE is sufficiently informing our young people.
“Due in large part to outdated legislation, schools can pick and choose parts of the sexual education curriculum to deliver to their students. This, in turn, means that many of the key issues surrounding safe sex, contraceptives and crisis pregnancies are often barely touched upon, or left out entirely.
“Sexual consent, which is often let out of discussions completely, must play a central role in any reform of RSE, equipping young people with the skills to feel confident discussing consent in their relationships, and equally confident recognising when consent has and has not been given. It is fundamental, but not central enough.
“It is clear that the current RSE programme is inadequate, and not meeting the needs of young people. An LGBTQI-inclusive approach to RSE in schools is also essential.
“Young people want to be fully informed and want to know how to be safe in any relationships they have or may have. We must trust young people enough to properly equip them with the skills necessary to feel confident discussing these matters. School is where this process must begin.”