Sex education appeal for STI ‘rife’ Scotland

Scotland has one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in Europe. Picture: TSPL

Scotland has one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in Europe. Picture: TSPL

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A SEX education lobbyist will today call for schools to be legally compelled to teach children about issues such as contraception, abortion, sexuality, abuse and sexual consent.

Sexpression:UK says Scotland is “rife” with sexually-transmitted infections and homophobia while its “ambiguous” guidance on sexual consent “adds to sexual violence, rape and verbal harassment”.

Scotland has one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in Europe yet more than three-quarters of denominational schools will not discuss contraception and one in twenty primary schools offer no formal sex and relationship education at all, it said.

It is calling on Holyrood to take the near unprecedented step of using the law to compel schools to provide sex and relationship education (SRE).

Jack Fletcher, advocacy representative at Sexpression:UK and an Aberdeen University medical student, will make the case for statutory sex education at Holyrood’s Public Petitions Committee today.

“Although teenage pregnancy has fallen greatly in recent years, the rates in Scotland are still one of the highest in Europe,” he said.

“Sexual-transmitted infections are still rife due to lack of contraception use.

“Homophobia is rife in schools and this is an issue that needs effective confrontation, of which education is key.

“Homophobia leads to self-harm, depression and reduced attainment in the individual’s education capabilities, an issue that is epidemic in schools as shown by the many reports by Stonewall Scotland.

“Consent is a huge area of ambiguity and this only adds to sexual violence, rape and verbal harassment. This is not treated with the concern it deserves.”

Scotland has almost no statutory curriculum, with only religious education and Gaelic instruction in certain regions enshrined in law, the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (Spice) has advised MSPs.

“Rather than being set out in statute, the school curriculum is established through guidance issued by Education Scotland,” it said.

“The Scottish Government note that responsibility for sex and relationship education lies primarily with local authorities.”

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