Sex is just like driving Sex and relationships education (sre) in primary schools



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Sex is just like driving…..


Sex and relationships education (SRE) in primary schools



These very same thoughts are also often applied to young disabled people of any age

  • These very same thoughts are also often applied to young disabled people of any age

  • Perhaps this is our first insight that a common approach to sex and disability is to infantilise young disabled people and shy away from addressing their very real learning needs in this area



What follows is an analogy that might just help….

  • What follows is an analogy that might just help….

  • Let’s not think about sex,

  • let’s think about driving…..



What are the rules for driving?

  • Driving is an adult activity that is both exciting and potentially dangerous



What are the rules for driving?



What are the rules for driving?

  • Safety equipment must be worn



What are the rules for driving?

  • There are strict legal consequences for those who break the law or encourage others to do so



What are the rules for driving?

  • There are also laws about not driving while under the influence of drink or drugs



What are the rules for driving?

  • You are required by law to prove that your vehicle is in good working order through the annual MOT



What are the rules for driving?

  • You must be insured to drive and you must have passed a test to be permitted to do so on the open road



What are the rules for sex and relationships?



What are the rules for sex and relationships?

  • If you think about it, what we are teaching in SRE is exactly the same sort of rules…

  • Do it only when you are old enough and mature enough to handle the consequences

  • Learn how to do it properly

  • Consider other ‘road users’

  • Wear appropriate protective equipment

  • Make sure your ‘motor’ is in good working order and you get a regular service and MOT

  • Insure against accidents

  • It doesn’t mix well with alcohol and drugs



So what is age appropriate learning?

  • If we go back to driving…

  • Young people don’t start to learn about driving just before they take their first driving lesson

  • They have been learning from the very earliest age



So what is age appropriate learning?

  • That first baby seat and seat belt



So what is age appropriate learning?

  • The cycling proficiency test



So what is age appropriate learning?

  • This all adds up, over years, so that when those driving lessons come around, young people are already a long way down their learning road.

  • Yet they still haven't sat behind the wheel of a car and driven it independently.



So what is age appropriate learning?

  • And what is the equivalent of seat belts and green cross codes for sex and adult relationships?

  • Communications skills, friendship skills, emotional literacy, building resilience and self-esteem, properly naming body parts, understanding how our bodies work, preparing for puberty changes, exploring difference and diversity



So….

  • Do you see how much sexual health work you are already doing without even knowing it?

  • And we each have a choice…



We have a choice…

  • We can do this work deliberately and do it well

  • Or

  • We can let children and young people teach themselves and each other, as they invariably will



We have a choice…

  • Children learn so much from the examples set them by the adults in their lives.

  • We must be conscious of what we teach by our everyday actions, in our own relationships, as well as formal lessons



And after the driving test?

  • Anyone who drives a vehicle will know that passing that test is just the start of a lot more learning.

  • There are motorways, night driving, adverse weather, new vehicles, bigger vehicles, automatic gear-boxes, driving abroad….



Life-long learning

  • Just as driving is a continual learning process, so is our learning about sex and relationships.

  • The learning doesn’t stop as soon as someone has had sex for the first time.

  • How awful would that be?!



Life-long learning

  • For as long as we live, there will always be something new to learn about sex and relationships, right through our adult lives.

  • Happy learning!





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