Conference, there are really two parts to this motion. SNP Youth and SNP Students have together submitted this motion – I am going to speak specifically about the need for sex and relationship education and I know Angus is going to talk more about making our education system more LGBT+ inclusive.
So… we need to talk about sex. Is this a good time? When is a good time? I don’t think there ever really is a good time but with sex I think we just need to just need to bite the bullet. Because children, yes children are accessing or are exposed to sexually explicit material with the average age of first exposure being just 11 years old.
It is perfectly normal for young people to be curious about sex and relationships and the internet gives them an easy way to access this information. Before widespread use of the internet this debate was about when was the best time to explain the birds and the bees to our children, but now that decision has been taken out of our hands.
We must equip our children and young people with an inclusive and progressive high quality sex and relationship education focusing on issues such as sexual health, trust in relationships and, specifically, consent so that when they are exposed to sexually explicit material they are able to make informed decisions.
This is increasingly important as studies have shown that when children and young people are exposed to sexually explicit material, they are at a greater risk of developing unrealistic expectations of body image and performance, more negative attitudes towards roles and identities in relationships and unrealistic attitudes about sex and consent.
We need to talk about consent. Because, currently 3 in 4 young women believe porn has led to pressure on them to act in a certain way.
It worries me that young women are leaving our educational system without having consent properly explained to them. We need to empower young women through teaching them about their bodies and the boundaries that are associated with their bodies. I want young girls to know that it is their right to choose when to have sex, it does not have to be rushed. We need our young women to leave school knowing that they have complete ownership over that choice.
We must have open and honest discussions about consent, it does not have to be linked with relationships, we must accept that fully consensual sex can happen with a partner you are not in a relationship with. It must also be acknowledged that assault and sexual violence and rape is even more likely to occur by someone that you know well or are in a long term relationship with.
Bringing in a fully inclusive education would deal with sexist behaviour, sexist language and sexist humour right from the get go. We know that when we use sexist language or homophobic, transphobic language we are normalising sexism and LGBT+ phobia within our society.
We must teach our young people about respectful, equal and trusting relationships and not gender these conversations. We must be mindful that school is hard enough as it is without being put in a box that you do not fit into and understand that young people may be starting to ask questions about their relationships, their gender or their sexuality. If we are not talking about this, if we are not providing our young people with a safe space to ask these questions then we are creating a vacuum that will be filled by misinformation and fear.
Conference, this motion is pertinent to a safe and inclusive education for our future generations. It is pertinent to nurturing a culture that is respectful and that treats everyone equally.
Conference, I urge you to listen to the many new young voices that are going to follow and please support this motion.
Proposing Motion for Inclusive Education, SNP Conference, March 2016