Group petitions Scottish Parliament to make sex education compulsory
A group of students is calling for Scotland to introduce compulsory sex education in schools to cut teen pregnancy and increase sexual health.
Youth group Sexpression UK has asked a Scottish Parliament committee to consider a petition “urging the Scottish government to introduce comprehensive sex and relationship education (SRE) into the Scottish education curriculum and make it statutory for all schools to teach".
Sexpression draws together students from across UK universities working on projects to improve sexual health for young people.
Jack Fletcher, advocacy representative at Sexpression UK, who is due to appear before Holyrood's public petitions committee, said: "At present, there is no statutory SRE in the Scottish education system.”
Although teenage pregnancy has fallen greatly in recent years, the rates in Scotland are still one of the highest in Europe.
"I feel very strongly that this is an area that needs vast improvement and that legislation should be passed for comprehensive high-quality SRE to be taught as statutory in schools at primary and secondary level, with age-appropriate measures taken towards content.
"This is a priority because although teenage pregnancy has fallen greatly in recent years, the rates in Scotland are still one of the highest in Europe.
"Sexually-transmitted infections are still rife due to lack of contraception use.
"Homophobia is rife in schools and this is an issue that needs effective confrontation, of which education is key."
Currently only religious education and Gaelic instruction in certain regions of Scotland are law.
The organisation says a quarter of schools in Scotland have no SRE-trained staff, while three-quarters of denominational schools would not discuss contraception.