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Cardiff research sparks nationwide action for compulsory sex and relationships education

10 March 2014

Findings from recent research into pre-teen experiences of sexism and sexual harassment have been used to support a protest march at Downing Street.

'Girls and Boys Speak Out: A Qualitative Study of Children's Gender and Sexual Cultures (Age 10-12)' was launched in December 2013 and received national and international media coverage. The research was carried out by Emma Renold, Professor of Childhood Studies at the School of Social Sciences, and commissioned by NSPCC and the Office of the Children's Commissioner for Wales.

Baroness Maggie Jones cited the research ahead of the proposal to the House of Lords to amend the Children and Families Bill to make sex and relationships education (SRE) compulsory in all state-funded schools, but the House of Lords voted no to the amendment in January this year. 

In response to this decision, Professor Emma Renold called for direct action by those most affected in an article for TESConnect and nationwide protests took place on Saturday 8th March 2014  - International Women's Day - in London, Portsmouth, Manchester, Bolton and Newcastle.  The protests were coordinated by YES Matters, a campaign group petitioning the House of Lords and Michael Gove to make SRE part of the mandatory national curriculum.

Professor Renold attended the protest march in London outside Downing Street and t-shirts were created that include quotes from the young people involved in the research. 

"There's a big disconnect between what members of the House of Lords think children need and what children themselves need from their sex and relationship education" Professor Renold said. "Current SRE is not only out of date, but patchy and partial. My research was all about hearing from children and what they thought about growing up in an increasingly sexualised society and the everyday sexism and sexual harassment they were subject to online and offline.

"The findings revealed that sex and relationships education needs to support and address the everyday realities of children's sexual cultures, from consent to sexual harassment. Failing to update and make SRE a mandatory part of the core curriculum, that addresses sexual rights, sexual discrimination, sexual health and sexual well-being is failing to support children in navigating an increasingly complex sexual world and enduring gender and sexual inequalities" Professor Renold added.

The following Monday the research was hand delivered to MP's in Westminster. 

You can watch Emma speak to a crowd in London

Please click the relevant link below to read the Full Report or the English and Welsh versions of the Executive Summary:

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