The Sex Ed They Should Have Taught You at School

A report published last week found that most children find sex education "irrelevant". Which is perhaps unsurprising, given that the last time the British government updated the Sex and Relationships (SRE) syllabus was in the year 2000. 


For context: that's when the PS2 was released, when Lenny Kravitz was topping the charts and when people had literally just realised that Y2K wasn't a thing and we weren't all going to perish in some far-fetched software meltdown.

Thing is, this guidance – this very old guidance, which pre-dates the existence of online porn and came out just as the age of consent for homosexuals had been lowered to 16 – isn't even compulsory in schools, despite pressure from a cross-party group of MPs. But maybe that's no bad thing? The syllabus seems determined to moralise sex. It refers to the "importance of marriage for family life and bringing up children"; says we all need to learn the reasons to "delay sexual activity"; and ominously warns that "early experimentation is not encouraged".

Speaking to Ester McGeeney from Brook, an independent sexual health and wellbeing charity, she says that schools still ask them to bring in giant scary pictures of diseased genitalia to "shock" kids away from sex. Problem is: there is almost nothing you can do to scare kids away from fucking. They're going to carry on fumbling around awkwardly for evermore, so maybe it's best to be a little more responsible about how sex ed is taught in school? Because in theory, better education means fewer teen pregnancies, less chlamydia doing the rounds, less bullying caused by ignorance and prejudice, and more orgasms for everyone.

So Justine Greening, Secretary of State for Education, if you're reading this, here are a few more realistic lessons that could be taught:


A lot of sex happens in the dark, or in cramped single beds, or after like 13 shots and an oily kebab that causes your fingers to lose the purchase they are naturally meant to have. All of this makes it quite hard to be dexterous with tiny little foil packets and transparent bits of latex, and calling a time-out to work out which way is up and – just fucking WAIT, Tim, I'm trying to make sure you don't put a baby in me – is a bit of a buzzkill.

That's why Brook's sex-ed classes try to mimic these conditions, with students asked to take part in blindfolded condom races. Because speed is of the essence: you don't want to end up in a situation where you get tired of trying to wrap up and turn to the "oh just pull out and I'll stand up for a really long time afterwards" method, because that is the opposite of reliable.

Also, remember to always carry. Having a condom on you doesn't mean you've automatically consented to anything, nor does it make you a "slut". You're just prepared. You're living your life the Scouts way! (Oh, and if money is an issue, go to a sexual health clinic – they will hurl bags of condoms at you if you're within a five-metre radius of the door).


For some reason I'm as scared of herpes as I am of sharks, which is to say: very scared. Of course, both of these fears are dumb – I don't live near any large body of water, let alone one containing sharks, and getting herpes isn't actually the end of the world. Problem is, I didn't learn that at school, because any mention of herpes was neglected in favour of a thorough scare lecture about chlamydia.

This focus on one particular STI – which is easily treated – leads to lots of misconceptions. Can you contract HIV from train station seats? Is it true that you can cure gonorrhoea by just swilling a load of salt water around in your mouth? Isn't syphilis something ancient princes used to die of? Ester says Brook still get these kind of questions from students at every school they visit.

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