Thursday, 24 May 2012

Naming modern SexEd. Does the name matter?

What's in a name?

I regularly run into the problem of giving a concise but comprehensive name to the work I try to do about sexual health and wellbeing (see I just tried to summerise it in 4 words) but every term I use seems to fall short of fully explaining the field. Every worker in this field of knowledge of biological, sociological, emotional, technological and probably some more -icals related to reproduction has their own personal favourites.

My favourite is Sex and Relationship Education. Short and simple but not necessarily very complete in covering all I work on when I have lessons covering individual self esteem, sexting and the distortions of pornography. Most names in the field have a history and reason for their particular emphasis. For example my favourite name for my work emphasis a core approach that I will only talk about sex as part of a larger curriculm which includes discussion on healthy relationships. I fully believe this is a key learning point for young people.

Thinking of some over common terms (especially in the USA) "Abstience Only" "Abstience Plus" "Comprehensive Sex Education". By someones chosen name you can oftern guess alot about their approach.

So when I read this article from The Guardian I wondered what is the history of this name? What does the name tell me?

"Comprehensive Sexuality Education"

Now education is pretty straight forward and comprehensive is often uses to explain the principle of "more then just bare bones of biology". The more unique term is sexuality. Last year I attended a sexual health training course ran by ACET NI in central Asia. They had a day focusing on what they called Sexuality. This term got lost in translation as the russian term used seemed to mean soley orientation. The ACET NI tram wanted to explain something more complex about the universal human condition of seeking contact with others. Expressed in a multitude of ways. Another term for this could be relationality.

So when this article says sexuailty are they using the term primarily for orientation or a more larger idea. If it is just orientation why have they identified this as a significant enough single topic to single out? If it is wider then orientation what point are they making with the name? Personally I have found peoples reactions to this term so mixed and confussed I avoid it whilst covering the material others would title sexuality.

I think that naming sexual health educational work will continue to be a mixed bag. But the universal need we have all identified is that the SexEd of the past is not enough. Young people deserve more and what ever you title it we have a duty to do better.