A UK Channel 4 documentary entitled “Sex in Class” will be showing how British students handled a remarkably progressive sex education course that could lead to sex education reform.
13 Year 11 students at Hollins Technology College in Lancashire volunteered to be part of the course, according to Jasper Rees of the Telegraph. These students hadn’t received the same sex education that their peers in more progressive areas may have.
Sara Wallis of the Mirror quoted Liekens on the need for more effective sex education in the UK:
You just have to look at the statistics to see that the UK is the worst pupil in Western Europe concerning sex education.
The teacher, Goedele Liekens, is a Belgian therapist and a United Nations goodwill ambassador for sexual health. Her feminist course stunned the students, whose knowledge about sex was most informed by internet pornography.
She wants a version of her course to be turned into a sex education GCSE, writes Adi Bloom of TES.
Liekens approach divides students by gender, since internalized attitudes about sex vary between them. The boys in particular expressed troubling attitudes that included misogyny and a lack of concern about women’s consent, let alone their pleasure.
Boys were given assignments like shaving their pubic hair so they could experience the discomfort that they expected their female peers to go through when they expressed the opinion that they should be completely clean-shaven.
The girls, on the other hand, were encouraged to explore their desires and bodies. For example, an assignment asked them to investigate their genitals with a mirror after showing an inability to identify parts of their anatomy. Liekens said during a meeting of school staff:
Sometimes at the end of the course I give the girls sex toys as a gift. Is that OK or is that a step too far?
Both girls and boys collaborated to rewrite a scene of pornography so it included consent and female sexual desire.
Headteacher Steve Campbell said:
I suppose it was quite a big step to say, ‘Yes, we’re going to be part of this.’ But this year we’ve dealt with teenage pregnancies, we’ve dealt with inappropriate texts and, without a shadow of a doubt, the biggest single influence on the young people is pornography.
According to Ellen E. Jones of the Independent, one scene of the documentary showed Liekens’ meet-up with the chairperson of the Commons select committee on sex education, MP Graham Stuart and how uncomfortable he was as she revealed his ignorance of the female anatomy.