There are new calls for inclusive sex education in South Africa

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There have been new calls for schools in South Africa to teach inclusive sex education lessons.

Dr Gordon Isaacs today called for reform to the South African sex-education curriculum, which currently ignores teaching about same-sex relationships.

South Africa has what, initially, appears to be a modern sex education curriculum for their high-school pupils. The progressive system firstly teaches children from the ages 4-8 about personal safety. Respect for the body, puberty and HIV/AIDS is then taught between the ages of 9-11.
When pupils are educated about sexuality and sex itself between the 7th and 9th grade, however, the system is flawed. Dr Isaacs of the Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Task Force (SWEAT) explained to Cape Argus, the straight “when a boy loves a girl” narrative is totally dominant in sex education.

Despite South Africa in 2006 becoming the fifth country worldwide to legalise same-sex marriage, homosexual sex and relationships is a topic completely ignored throughout school teaching.

Dr Isaac highlighted how this ignorance has a profound impact on South Africa’s LGBT community: “It is a critical area that should not be ignored. It is linked to relationships, intimacy, desire and certainly linked to HIV”. He explained that homosexual sex education would enable curious and gay pupils to explore their sexuality in an informed manner within a safe environment.

Isaac also emphasized the importance of co-operation amongst school boards, parents and teachers in implementing homosexual sex education.

Lindsey Lewis, who teaches the ‘Life Orientation’ classes which contain sex education at Edgemead High School in Cape Town, stressed the importance of a careful approach when educating pupils about homosexual relationships:

“I think that the only time that becomes relevant to teaching is when you are dealing with pupils who are in puberty and who obviously are at that stage grappling with that issue. At that stage it would be fair to introduce it [Homosexual sexual education], but in a very sensitive and objective manner without prejudice and judgments attached to the way that you are putting the information across.”

The Western Cape Education Department has already reformed its sex education policy this year in response to the complaints of parents and teachers by creating a Teacher Training Course in April to “help teachers to teach sexuality education in a responsible and medically correct manner”.

Clearly, introducing homosexual sex education should be the next priority for the department, in order to further equality and knowledge of South Africa’s LGBT community.