Students Need Objective and Comprehensive Sex Education

29 January 2019

Labour TD and Chair of the All Party Oireachtas Group on Sexual and Reproductive Health has described as ‘essential’ the delivery of objective Sexual Education.

Deputy O’Sullivan said;

“The recommendations from the Oireachtas Education Committee, of which I am a member, is broadly in line with the recommendation on Sex Education of the Oireachtas Committee on the 8th amendment, on which I was the Labour Party representative. Labour Fully support the recommendations of the Education Committee on this issue.

“It would be my hope that this issue could be dealt with by the end of this academic year, and that the new school year can mark the beginning of a comprehensive and necessary Sexual Education programme in all Irish schools.

“The Committee recommendation was for a thorough review of sexual health and education (including the areas of consent and contraception) in primary and post-primary schools, that sufficient time must be provided in the curriculum and that it should be taught by suitably qualified personnel.

“It also specifically recommended that the information should be provided in an impartial and factual manner that is independent of school ethos.

“It is essential that the facts are provided to young people objectively and not through the prism of a particular ethos.

“It was particularly concerning from the evidence given to the Committee by the Department of Education and Skills that schools sometimes bring in outside agencies to deliver the SPHE and RSE curriculum and they may have a particular ethos, a lack of objectivity and no training in teaching. They also said in their presentation; ‘we know that there are issues relating to the competence and confidence of teachers regarding the delivery of RSE’.

“The result is patchy at best. Some schools do a great job and there are really committed teachers who engage with young people and equip them well to deal with personal and sexual relationships and the challenges they bring. Other young people paint a very different picture in which they are either preached at or faced with a teacher who is uncomfortable with the subject and gives minimal information.

“This is so important in terms of the complex world that young people must now negotiate that it has to be delivered by motivated trained teachers.

“It is absolutely vital that our young people are properly equipped with age-appropriate, modern information and facts, particularly at Second Level, on issues like contraception and consent, to help inform the decisions they go on to make as young adults.”

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