4 September is just around the corner, and it might seem just like any other day. But you know we wouldn’t be bringing it up if it was just another average day.
It’s World Sexual Health Day and the theme for 2015 is a focus on sexual health and justice, sexual rights and human rights. Basically, it’s asking for a fairer society when it comes to sex - which means equal rights for everyone around the world regardless of who they choose to have sex with or how they identify. That's certainly relevant given Australia's current debate over marriage equality.
But if you read the guidelines for this year it's so much more than that. It talks about the right to comprehensive sexuality education and the right to have pleasurable, satisfying and safe sexual experiences.
In recognition of this event teachers around Australia are probably pulling out the piles of plain condoms, budget lube and awkward wooden penises. That’s because most Aussie school curriculum doesn’t really cover sexual health as well as it could, it usually focuses on the functionality.
Australian schools operate on a "risk averse" sex education model. It involves the how and the what and the why, and has a real focus on the "what happens if you don’t" (we all remember those massive posters about Chlamydia and syphilis). It tells the girls the pros and cons of different birth control methods, and it tells the boys about carefully removing condoms after use (although this is just as much a good life skill in terms of avoiding mess as it is about sexual health).
In school, nobody tells you what an epic cardio workout sex is and all the welcome side effects such as a boosted immune system, lowered blood pressure, improved sleep, decreased stress and a lower chance of prostate cancer for the guys. They also could do with a few lessons on the mental health benefits of sex. Simply enjoying skin-to-skin contact and closeness releases oxytocin, which is adorably also known as the cuddle or love hormone and simply helps you bond with your partner.
And while safe sex is important women's health advocates have called for secondary school students to learn about pleasure and orgasm in sex education classes. Sex education advocates believe school courses should also cover subjects such as consent, sexting, sexual pleasure, the health benefits of a healthy sex life and even masturbation. And with statistics showing that children as young as 10 are finding pornography online, experts are saying it's time to develop a standardised curriculum for all students rather than the patchwork program that currently varies from school to school, state to state.
So, what can you do to make a difference on World Sexual Health Day?
If you're a parent talk to your children, find out if they're getting the education you would want them to have, get involved and don't leave it to the educators who only talk about functionality. Ensure your children know that if they have a question about sex, or sexuality, that they can talk to you openly or nominate a friend that they can approach. And if you don't have a family or just want to make a difference throw your support behind a cause you believe in whether it's marriage equality or ending female genital mutilation. The fact that you clicked through to read this article means you want to make a difference.