Young People Can Now Get Their Sex Education On Facebook

Young People Can Now Get Their Sex Education On Facebook

Sex education in schools is, to say the least, not ideal. The antiquated sex ed curriculum provided in UK classrooms doesn’t make room for LGBT relationships, sexting, or online pornography. But now, one company is giving teens the information they really need – on Facebook.

At the end of 2017, Education Secretary Justine Greening revealed she was drafting a new relationships and sex education curriculum for young people that aims to make young people “feel safe, well-adjusted and more aware of LGBT relationships”. Greening said: “It is unacceptable that relationships and sex education (RSE) guidance has not been updated for almost 20 years, especially given the online risks, such as sexting and cyber bullying, our children and young people face. Young people must have an education that teaches them the importance of healthy and stable relationships.”

But it seems one organisation has already beat Greening to the punch. Advocates for Youth, a group that trains and empowers young people to be advocates for reproductive and sexual rights, have recently been hosting Facebook Live chats under the hashtag #SexEdLive. The talks take place on their Facebook page, and cover sexually transmitted diseases, consent, gender identity, and the options available to young women who find themselves pregnant. The videos are all inclusive and feature people of varied faiths, races and capabilities – including sessions with members of the Young Women of Colour Leadership Council on healthy relationships and covering teen pregnancy with an advocate from the Muslim Youth Leadership group. They also hold some sessions in ALS, teaching youths how to give and recognise sexual consent in sign language.

The activists who work with Advocates for Youth started the live video series as a response to the ‘Sex Ed Sit Out’ in America last month. The protest was staged by parents who opposed sex education classes that they said contained “graphic, gender-bending” content, and those who took part threatened to pull their children out of school because of it. Advocate for Youth caters for those students exactly, with the captions on their videos stating: “Some parents are keeping their kids out of school today to protest sex ed, but Advocates' youth activists are here to fill in the gaps and make sure everyone gets the info they need.”

Like the UK, the state of America’s sex education system is nothing short of dire – and in many ways even worse than Britain’s. In a number of US states there’s no requirement that sex education be medically accurate, and Trump’s administration have set their focus on abstinence-only education. This type of information has been condemned by the American Medical Association and the Society for Adolescent Medicine.

According to Teen Vogue, abstinence-only sex ed only serves to hinder the information young people receive, failing to provide young people with medically sound material. Diana Thu-Thao Rhodes, Director of Public Policy at Advocates for Youth, told the publication: “We want to have young people live healthy and make healthy decisions, but we’ve got to provide them with the tools. Abstinence-only-until-marriage programs do exactly the opposite.”

The great thing about Advocates’ approach to sex education, beyond its all-inclusive stance, is that its availability on social media allows the group to reach young people on a platform that’s comfortable and familiar to them. The interactive nature of Facebook also means that those who have questions that they might not feel comfortable asking in a classroom of their peers can quiz experts, who will get back to them in real time. Furthermore, teenagers around the world who don’t have access to quality, comprehensive, inclusive sex education can follow and learn from the talks, too.

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