Teacher warns sex education in hands of ‘violent and misogynistic’ porn industry

ireland
Teacher Warns Sex Education In Hands Of ‘Violent And Misogynistic’ Porn Industry Teacher Warns Sex Education In Hands Of ‘Violent And Misogynistic’ Porn Industry
Launch of Dublin Rape Crisis Centre Annual Report, © PA Wire/PA Images
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By Cate McCurry, PA

Failure to educate young people about pornography and its effects leaves the sexual education of the next generation in the “violent and misogynistic hands” of the porn industry, a teacher has warned.

The Minister of Education has been urged to speed up the proposed changes to the sex education curriculum for schools.

Eoghan Cleary, an English and drama teacher at Temple Carrig Secondary School in Co Wicklow, told an event hosted by the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre (DRCC) that young people’s expectations of sex is “skewed”.

Minister for Education Norma Foley, who attended the event, heard how students are turning to the porn industry for their sex education.

Badges on display at the launch of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre Annual Report & Statistical Supplement 2021 at the Academy Plaza Hotel, Dublin (Brian Lawless/PA)

Mr Cleary devised a gender studies programme at his school in response to what he said was a lack of understanding to consent, misogyny and toxic masculinity.

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The BodyRight programme, developed by the DRCC, enables students to explore social conditioning with regards personality, behaviour, education, careers, relationships, and sex.

“When it came to sex, what the students assumed was expected of them because of their gender was so obviously and universally influenced by porn, that I immediately redeveloped the programme to be one to focus on porn literacy,” he said.

“Since implementing both of these programme, the culture of our school has been slowly but steadily affected by them.

“Our students, from third year on, are fluent in their understanding of consent, how to ask for it, how to give it, how to withhold it, what the law says about it, and how to practically figure out what they are comfortable consenting to, as well as being able to support someone who has experienced an unwanted sexual interaction.

“More than half of our students reported actively using porn, a quarter of our male students using it more than once a day. Let’s be clear, they are not passably watching it. They are actively using it.

“Those who use it report that they rely on it to know what they’re expected to do in a sexual interaction, and how they’re expected to do it.

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“Our students currently have 24 hour access in their classrooms, in their bedrooms to the most violent, degrading and misogynistic video content available in the world.

“Their expectations of how they are meant to act and behave in sexual encounters is so skewed.

“I have a very detailed list of the expectations that they have fed back to me, many of them based on the boys’ belief that they are expected to demonstrate dominance, and the girls’ understanding that they are meant to behave in a submissive and compliant manner.

“The specifics of this list would be shocking to most of you, as the negative focus on unhealthy, extremely violent and toxic harmful attitudes and behaviours is undeniable.”

 

He said that without such programmes in schools, there is nothing to challenge these expectations.

Mr Cleary told the event that students are “shocked and angered” that the Department of Education has not revised its curriculum on sex education sooner.

“They are shocked that this is the first time they are being taught about something so vitally important to their well being,” he added.

“They are angry that no one has protected them and their sexual conditioning throughout their childhood.”

He said these types of programmes need to be embedded in the national curriculum and delivered by trained teachers.

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“If we continue to allow primary and secondary school children to access the internet in the unfettered manner that smartphones enable, without any kind of regulation, effective legislation, or at the very least some education about pornography and its effects on their brains and their future sex lives, we are leaving the sexual education as well as the sexual conditioning of the next generation of Irish children in the increasingly violent and misogynistic hands of the porn industry,” he added.

The event was held to launch the DRCC annual report and statistical supplement 2021.

DRCC chief executive Noeline Blackwell also urged the minister to speed up the changes within schools.

“Every single year that passes without this makes our heart sink because there’s another class that has started that won’t hear what needs to be heard, that will leave school without knowing what they need to know,” Ms Blackwell added.

“So we will continue to be really impatient for the change.”

Badges on display at the launch of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre Annual Report & Statistical Supplement 2021 at the Academy Plaza Hotel, Dublin (Brian Lawless/PA)

Ms Foley said said that access to sexual and health education is an important right for students.

A review of the current curriculum by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment identified areas that required improvement.

“This updated specification places a strong focus on the development of important life skills that young people need growing up in a fast-changing and indeed, I would say complex world,” Ms Foley said.

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“It recognises the very significant changes which have taken place in young people’s lives since the current specification was developed.

“It is absolutely grounded in an approach that is positive, holistic, student-centred, inclusive and age and developmentally appropriate.”

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