In Brief

Schoolgirls should learn about orgasms, says Labour MP

Jess Phillips says overhauling the sex education system will help prevent violence against women

Sex education lessons in schools should involve teaching girls about orgasms, healthy relationships and body positivity, says Labour MP Jess Philips.

Speaking to Grazia magazine, the MP for Birmingham Yardley said it was important that pupils learn about sexual pleasure as well as receiving advice about contraception and sexual health.

“We should be telling girls about orgasms during sex education,” she said. “I’m not suggesting we go into schools and teach children how to masturbate, I’m suggesting we talk to them about the things they’re doing anyway.”

Her comments come as the Department of Education looks to reform sex education lessons in classrooms for the first time in 17 years, The Guardian reports. The government’s consultation on which topics should be covered closed earlier this week.

Currently sex education is compulsory in state-run secondary schools but is not in academies or free schools, nor in primary schools. Parents have the right to withdraw their children from sex education lessons if they are under the age of 15.

Sex education in schools across the UK “is notoriously inconsistent,” says the Huffington Post. “Some students get the comprehensive ‘condoms-on-bananas’ curriculum, while others are left to figure everything out for themselves.”

The Labour party - and sexual health charities - have long campaigned for wider and more extensive sex education to be taught in schools.

Philips also said she wanted to close the “orgasm gap” after researcher in the US found that 95% of heterosexual men said they “usually or always orgasm” while being sexually intimate, compared with just 65% of straight women.

“Women’s expectations should be greater, we have to start demanding more,” said the MP, who is campaigning for sex education in secondary schools to be compulsory by 2020.

Open discussions about female sexual pleasure will help girls form healthy relationships when the become adults, she added, and are vital to redress gender power imbalance.

“To liberate women and end violence is to break down the culture of power imbalance,” Philips told the magazine. “Let’s stop people feeling ashamed”.  

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