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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sexual Ethics and Politics » UK - Anti-abortion group drafted in as sexual health adviser to government (Page 2)

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Author Topic: UK - Anti-abortion group drafted in as sexual health adviser to government
Heather
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I wouldn't say that was my in other words at all. Seriously.

It was just sounding like *you* were feeling like this wasn't something you wanted to do, and might be kind of projecting that onto other people. We all do that accidentally sometimes.

(I'm so sorry to hear about your few months. Having grown up with a serious activist that paid a high price for that and spent so much of my life in activism, I know what the harsh side effects can be like sometimes, and how rough they can be. I hope you and your friends are going to be okay.)

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Jacob at Scarleteen
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Hey all, it seems the wheels fell off this thread a little... what can we still do?/what would we still like to do?

I can try to collate the views people have put up into a letter as a whole to get feedback for? I'm not sure that'd satisfy what we were initially aiming for but we can try... would that be ok?

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Karybu
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This started off so well, I'd hate to see it fall by the wayside. If y'all wanted to put a piece together, not necessarily a letter TO anyone, but just something expressing how you're feeling about this, maybe it could at the very least go up on the blog, on the main site?

Jacob, if you wanted to collate everything into one piece, and post it here, then everyone could help edit, if you're okay with that.

[ 06-30-2011, 06:33 PM: Message edited by: Karybu ]

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"Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." -Arundhati Roy

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Jill2000Plus
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I'd like to still do something with this, though I'm not sure how much internet access I'll have over the next few days as I'm visiting my grandma in a small village and I don't want to hog the computer and my USB modem doesn't always work there.

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Always knock before entering my room when I am in there alone, as I may be doing all sorts of wonderfully thrilling things that I'd rather you didn't see.

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Jacob at Scarleteen
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I think I can have a letter on here tomorrow evening sometime maybe, sleep permitting today.

But also, anyone near london (I just bought a super-offpeak day-return for £12!) there's going to be a pro-choice demonstration in london on saturday

Here's the facebook event: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=175470995844914

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Jill2000Plus
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If it's possible, can you try and put something in there about how we still respond badly to even the suggestion that teenagers have a right to know what masturbation is and that it's not wrong and that it's their body and they have a right to touch it, I think there should be something about that in there, because one of the fundamental issues here is that we act as if parents have a right to deny teenagers the right to explore their sexuality until they turn 18, we act as if it's somehow ok to say "no orgasms under "my" roof because I say so and I'm your parent and you will do as I say (because I am your master and god)". And that's wrong, because all born homosapiens have a right to ownership of their own bodies, sexualities and gender identity.

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Always knock before entering my room when I am in there alone, as I may be doing all sorts of wonderfully thrilling things that I'd rather you didn't see.

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Jacob at Scarleteen
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Ok I've gone and written a behemoth, I've tried to included what everyone has said, but have not finished really, it's a rough draft.

I've made what I wrote before part of the body and tried to go for a smarter introduction. To make it the introduction again and get rid of my new introduction is an option.

What would be really good would be suggestions to reword things, and have them written as people would like their own points to be made in this sort of context.

Feedback on this draft as a whole,

And ideas of where to shorten it and make it punchier... as it is very long. I'm just falling asleep, but I said i'd post something so here it is!

quote:
To Michael Gove MP, Secretary of State for Education,

We really would like to have written to you asking of you and us, “Do we want to improve sex education in the UK and the lives of young people seeking sexual & reproductive health services?” and we would have hoped the reply might have been “yes”. We would most like to have written to you asking you to do something to help improve sex education.

Yet, instead we have to also ask with a present urgency for something considerably less. We ask that you overcome the recently indicated progressing threat to the current form of SRE policy and then ask that you exceed it with encouraging a progress that embodies quality, depth, and increased presence of sex education in the UK and improves respect for teenagers and appreciation for the diversity and complexity of sexuality.

We are fantastically disappointed that the new Sex and Relationships Education Council you supported which almost entirely is composed of either groups who oppose all teenage sexual activity and diversity of teenagers or groups whose sole purpose is to deny legal abortion (a fundamental part of this country’s supportive reproductive healthcare services) as playing any positive role whatsoever in the young people’s lives it has saved.

Education to help us with our sex lives cannot be informed by advice to the government from these organisations none of whom even provide sex education. It is estimated that people of any generation overwhelmingly have sex in their teens and for roughly 90% (as far back as the 40s) this occurred outside of any marriage.

The groups furthermore word teenage sex as “sex before marriage” and speak scarcely at all of non-straight identities or sexualities, except from their implication in the distinct absence of a mention when ‘traditional’ values are described. This poses as much exclusion to the diversity of sexualities as section 28 which you were able to call “nonsense”. Sexuality and sex is not a threat to us as young people, but the attack upon it is something capable of incredibly detrimental repercussions.

An absence of conversation about safe sexual health practise by the lacking education resources produced by members of the council thus-far, not only leave young people like us without any confidence in knowledge of or protection from unwanted pregnancy or unnecessary risk of sexually transmitted disease. Their ideology is one which promotes guilt and fear and can totally dominate decision making, the courage to ask for help and actually to regulate sexual behaviour.

The sex we have is more than capable of being healthy... a healthy sex life can also, as feels best for many of us, include no partnered sex whatsoever, but to enable any choice to be made safely, understanding and acceptance are necessary. The groups suggesting that teenagers should try to withdraw from partnered sex are doing very little to help them giving them a near unsumountable goal with few rewards for many, and a massively increased risk for the majority who do not achieve it... none of the literature we have read even mentions masturbation, which might even help achieve their target. Masturbation harms no-one and it is a right to be allowed to do it.

Also to see Nadine Dorries’ bill deemed acceptable by your shared party and to gain votes to be discussed as potential law disturbed us as much as the appointing of LIFE over BPAS into the Independent Advisory Group on Sexual Health and HIV.

We have encountered sex education as it has been carried out in various forms at the schools we attended. Our sexualities are the ones that sex education bodies choose to predict and whose outcomes they choose to fight over. But on the subject of our sexualities we consider ourselves the experts, and so we are extremely disturbed to notice this very current swerve by MPs and the central government to begin pandering towards attitudes to sex education and sexual health that we feel could have severely damaged our sexual development and threatens that of those only a little younger than us.

These changes are not yet even implemented, and yet surely we must already consider them superseded.

Abstinence education championed by the majority of the council, is unworkable as a form of sex education and blockades the broader needs of sex and relationships education. Pro-life political lobby groups also have no place in actually helping educate.

We hope that you care to offer us your understanding, withdraw your support for the SRE Council and rethink, invert and outgrow this trend.

Jacob ....
names...


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Karybu
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This is a really, really good starting point. Happy to give feedback if you'd like, but it'll have to wait until tomorrow if that's okay; it's been kind of a long day!

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"Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." -Arundhati Roy

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Jill2000Plus
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I think it's really good too. Just to clarify, who are we planning to send this to? Or are we publishing it on Scarleteen? It's a shame it can't have been published somewhere with a ginormously huge readership (a major u.k. paper or something).

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Always knock before entering my room when I am in there alone, as I may be doing all sorts of wonderfully thrilling things that I'd rather you didn't see.

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Jacob at Scarleteen
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I think we're writing with the assumption that lots of people will read it, and there's nothing to say we can't get it into the bigstream press if we try... but unfortunately not in the news of the world lol.

And also I thought we were planning to also send it to actual Michael Gove... though, if anyone is with a spark of luck from Surrey Heath, his constituency, he is legally obliged to reply and that'd be really cool... but if with more likelihood none of us are, then that's ok.

[ 07-10-2011, 01:49 PM: Message edited by: Jacob at Scarleteen ]

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Saffron Raymie
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Jacob, Jill; I haven't forgotten this thread. However, I feel so conflicted about this.

Not about abortion, but about Dorries. Apparently, se said this:

"When Nadine Dorries proposed the motion to teach girls aged 13-16 ‘the benefits of abstinence’ she claimed that young people are ‘taught to have safe sex, but not how to say no’. Is this really the case?"

I completely don't think this is the case, having met several UK sex educators. However, my sex ed did not cover consent. At all. I feel this effected me so badly. As much as I don't agree with Dorries' awfully gendered rape-culture enhancing approach, (which I feel is extremely dangerous to male identified people amongst other things) I feel that if people are taught that saying no is always awesome...maybe it could be better than feeling that saying yes is always awesome?

This is a lesser-of-two-evils set up that is nagging at the back of my mind. However, I may not be seeing the bigger picture. That's why I've been silent and unhelpful in all your rocking efforts here. I just can't help thinking about what I was taught and how I felt that sex was inevitable, no matter how I felt, and then I can't stop being confused.

Maybe this just shows how little faith I have in education. Teens will never be treated as individuals I feel. It's the saussage-factory effect, no teaching about consent or glorifying no for all, no matter how much you would like sex...

So confused!

[ 07-18-2011, 02:25 PM: Message edited by: RaeRay2112 ]

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'Obtain the virgin's consent before you marry her' - Prophet Mohammad (pbuh)

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Heather
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But is teaching abstinence teaching consent?

After all, consent isn't just about saying no. It's also about saying yes, later, maybe, only within these limits and conditions, or any number of responses. It's about having choices, feeling able to exercise the full range of those choices, and supporting that with all people.

I see abstinence-only or no-only teaching as not being at all in support of that. teaching people there is only one right answer isn't teaching them how to consent and make choices at all. In fact, I'd say it only supports people not knowing how to do consent at all.

And it's not like we have to make a choice here, and only teach people how to say no or only teach people how to say yes.

Just FYI, the current SRE guidelines for comprehensive sex ed in the UK include earnestly teaching about consent. If the lessons you got didn't include it, that's likely more about schools or educators going off course that about the limitations of comprehensive sex ed and the current programme guidelines.

[ 07-18-2011, 02:26 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Saffron Raymie
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That's much clearer. Thank you Heather.

I feel so jaded, my own ed was so dire that I have no imagination for it being good. It was a long time ago though. I think that maybe schools here would not allow sex educators talking about different kinds of sex here, so people could think about their limits and boundaries with sex? I need to research...

[ 07-18-2011, 02:35 PM: Message edited by: RaeRay2112 ]

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'Obtain the virgin's consent before you marry her' - Prophet Mohammad (pbuh)

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Heather
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Have you ever looked at the SRE guidelines for the UK?

If not, why don't you take a look?

I also always think it's worth mentioning that Scarleteen is an example of comprehensive sex education. That's not a holler for you to be all, "Whoops! Yeah, this is awesome!" (Because you certainly don't ave to think that it is!) Rather, you can see examples of educating about consent here via a comprehensive model to get an idea of how that can be done in ways that support no, yes and a range of other answers.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Saffron Raymie
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haha yeah, I think I always see Scarleteen as something way ahead of it's time...but I guess comprehensive sex ed can be just like Scarleteen.

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'Obtain the virgin's consent before you marry her' - Prophet Mohammad (pbuh)

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Jacob at Scarleteen
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Hae Rae!

I totally agree with Heather, and I feel if we're not confident in saying "No" in sexual communications then the "Yes" can't be very sturdy either! I feel like there was neither, but even in the most optimistic wannabe-positive sex ed you could be made to think that sex was expected of you.

I think there's a massive issue with how "what kids need to be taught" is so universalised, rather than how we should be treated, and how we should be engaging in conversatiosn that lead to a confidence in our sexual decisions and the support we can get to enforce those decisions. Which is part of what really annoys me about the universal statements about "what girls need", from Dorries, no matter what she says... but when it goes further and implies that it is girls that need the focus in being gate keepers to the sex they have, which apparently they don't want to be having, it stinks of moralising and shutting down confidence all of which increases the problems it claims to reduce.

Here is a link, by the way, to the SRE guidance in the uk from the department of education.
https://www.education.gov.uk/publications/standard/publicationDetail/Page1/DfES%200116%202000

The national healthy school standard is also really important and this document kind of helps me:

www.nice.org.uk/nicemedia/documents/sex_relshiped.pdf

Quoting from it:

quote:
For Secondary Schools, the SRE Guidance
o requires provision of an SRE programme which includes, as a minimum, information about STIS and
HIV/AIDS and law provides that schools should have an up-to-date policy describing the provision of SRE;
o states that at secondary school level, SRE should prepare young people for an adult life in which they can:
o develop positive values and a moral framework that will guide their judgments, decisions and behaviour
o be aware of their sexuality and understand human sexuality;
o understand the arguments for delaying sexual activity;
o understand the reasons for having protected sex;
o understand the consequences of their actions and behave responsibly within sexual and pastoral relationships;
o have the confidence and self-esteem to value themselves and others and respect for individual conscience
and the skills to judge the kind of relationships they want;
o communicate effectively;
o have sufficient information and skills to protect themselves and, where they have one, their partner from
unwanted conceptions and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV
o avoid being exploited or exploiting others;
o avoid being pressured into unwanted or unprotected sex;
o access confidential sexual health advice, support and if necessary treatment;
o know how the law applies to sexual relationships.

...I don't think it's illegal not to follow the guidelines though. It also seems more about aims. But " avoid being exploited or exploiting others;" implies that consent needs to be talked about...

Schools have been told by the government in the past that they have the right to decide their own approach to SRE based on their values... but I'm not sure what the actual policy is on that, which seems aimed at faith schools.

PS. I totally appreciate you in the conversation! And no less at all if you have doubts about a subject!

[ 07-24-2011, 08:08 AM: Message edited by: Jacob at Scarleteen ]

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