Melody Thomas leads a frank (but often entertaining) exploration of sex, sexuality and relationships in the RNZ series BANG!
The call for better and more comprehensive sex education in schools is growing louder and in recent months much of it has been coming from school students themselves. So in episode two of BANG!, teens get to talk about they're being taught about sex and sexuality and whether it hits the mark.
In March, hundreds of demonstrators, mostly students, protested at Parliament, concerned that schools aren't doing enough to combat rape culture amongst some groups of teens. The action came after revelations of comments made online by Wellington College students, encouraging sexual assault. In response to the protests, Education Minister Hekia Parata maintained the matter is, "first and foremost a parental, family and whanau responsibility".
Yesterday, Wellington High School students Lauren Jack and Ruby Medlicott delivered a petition to parliament asking for better sex ed in schools, calling for the government to commit to making, "consent and healthy relationships a compulsory part of the curriculum."
BANG! creator Melody Thomas asks New Zealanders with strong views on the subject why this issue is important to them, starting with the petition's creators.
• LAUREN JACK and RUBY MEDLICOTT
"If we want to fight sexual assault in New Zealand, we need to have consistent and comprehensive sex education for young people in New Zealand. One in three girls experience some form of sexual assault before the age of 16, and the same goes for 1 in 7 boys... We need to educate and be educated on not only reproductive systems, but consent and why it is needed, and what makes up a healthy relationship. This education also needs to come with LGBTQ inclusion, we are sick of the exclusion of non-heteronormative relationships in the discussion around sex ed.
"Through providing consistent and comprehensive sex education in schools, New Zealand's young people will grow up knowing how to be in a healthy relationship, putting an end to rape culture and leading to a generation of respectful, self aware and educated New Zealanders. We think this is too huge of an issue to ignore, and don't want to live in a world in which we are scared to be in."
• JAMES BECK, Parenting Place
"We are only just beginning to see the significant impact that the widespread access to pornography and the influence of technology is having on this generation of young people and on the opinions and attitudes that young people are developing about sex and relationships. Young people need to have access to quality information as well as a space to have robust and honest conversations about consent, sexting, contraception and the value that we place on ourselves and on others."
• JOHANNA and BRITTANY COSGROVE
"Our own sex education was abysmal. We would have benefited hugely from someone sitting us down in a multi-gender environment, in our first year of high school, explaining, "This is what consent is", and ensuring we knew clearly that everyone has to right to say "no". We were never encouraged to have an open conversation with our peers about when and how to exercise this right.
We also believe that it's impossible to separate the physical from the emotional impact of sexual relationships. For girls in particular, it's important they feel like they can fully participate in healthy sexual relationships without having to submit and be quiet. Having a space for open discussion about our diverse feelings associated with sex would release taboos and normalise them. We are really concerned for those still being hurt by a lack of comprehensive consent education in high schools.The current culture can be changed, and it must be changed - beginning with strong directives in our education system."
• JAN LOGIE, Green MP
"I think New Zealand needs desperately to address a sexual violence and rape culture that's harming all of us... and one of the key things that we can do is introduce consistent consent education in our schools. Consent needs to be a core part of sex ed in all of our schools, and at the moment we're failing our young people by allowing the normalisation of aggressive sexual behaviour. Greater education in consent will help reduce rape culture."
• TOBY MORRIS, cartoonist, The Pencilsword
"Sex is a major part of all of our lives, but for so many Kiwi teenagers, our first experiences with it are riddled with confusion and fear. Poorly administered sex education can not only foster feelings of guilt and shame, but actually encourage dangerous and destructive attitudes.
The time has come for sex education that is honest, realistic and open minded. Our attitudes towards sex inform, in a broader sense, the way we define our own identity and the way we form relationships. If we can teach future generations about consent and about the broad range of sexual experiences, we can have a society that is confident, respectful, inclusive and positive."