Belfast Telegraph

Sexual consent classes for Republic of Ireland pupils

By Katherine Donnelly

All secondary-level school pupils in the Republic are to get classes in sexual consent in the biggest shake-up of sex education south of the border in more than 20 years.

Education Minister Richard Bruton has identified consent as a priority issue for a comprehensive review of the subject.

Personal rights and negotiating sexual relationships are already covered in the sex education curriculum for secondary-level pupils in the Republic. Now, Mr Bruton wants to ensure that there is sufficient emphasis on the importance of consent and what it actually means.

Sexual consent workshops are a growing feature at third-level schools, and the minister's move reflects a recognition that education around the issue must start at an earlier age.

The announcement comes just a week after the Belfast rape trial made consent a national issue, with calls for a broad conversation about what it means and how it is articulated.

Last year an Oireachtas Committee pointed to an urgent need for a thorough review of sex education.

Relationships and sexuality education (RSE) has been mandatory for primary and post-primary pupils since the 1990s, but the committee said the curriculum is out of date, and sometimes it is not taught or not taught well.

Mr Bruton's brief to curriculum advisers is to update RSE content so that it meets the needs of young people in Ireland, and to examine how well it is being delivered.

The minister, who announced the review at the start of his round of teacher union conferences, has written to the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, giving pointers as to what he wants covered.

It will also encompass developments in contraception, healthy sexual expression, safe use of the internet, the effects of social media on relationships and self-esteem, as well as LGBTQ+ issues.

Belfast Telegraph

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