Cape Town. 180908. Learners at the Saambou Primary School attending sex education lesson. Picture Leon Lestrade

Cape Town - High schools should teach pupils about homosexual sex.

That’s the view of the Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce’s (Sweat) psycho-social manager, Dr Gordon Isaacs .

Isaacs told the Cape Argus that far too little is being done to educate schoolchildren about other forms of sex that are prevalent in society, aside from the traditional “when a boy loves a girl” narrative that is taught across the country.

“It is a critical area that should not be ignored. It is linked to relationships, intimacy, desire and certainly linked to HIV,” Isaacs said. South Africa was the first African country and the fifth in the world to legalise gay marriage in 2006.

But nearly 10 years later, the national sex education curriculum still shies away from teaching pupils about homosexual intimacy.

According to the Western Cape Education Department (WCED), the current Life Orientation curriculum deals with sex and sexuality at appropriate levels for different ages. From Grades R to 3, the focus is mainly on personal safety, while Grades 4 to 6 are taught respect for one’s own body and those of others, also covering puberty and HIV/Aids.

From Grades 7 to 9, the content becomes more personal, discussing feelings, community norms, values and social pressures associated with sexuality.

In Grade 7, pupils are taught sexuality education, while in Grade 9 pupils learn about sex education – which only covers heterosexual sex.

The WCED recently introduced a programme for Grades 10 to 12 called ‘Today’s Choices” that teaches sexuality education for senior pupils, according to WCED spokesman, Paddy Attwell: “The department employs social workers and psychologists who provide counselling on sexuality, as required, along with the WCED’s Safe Schools Call Centre.”

He also added that the department applied the values and requirements of the constitution when it came to gay rights.

But Isaacs had his own suggestions on how the syllabus should include gay sex education: “Of course you are going to talk about things such as penetration, anal sex, oral sex, frottage – that is (the) rubbing (together) of thighs, kissing – and one needs to do it in a way that is consistent without bias and without prejudice.”

Isaacs said that if homosexual sex education was demystified and clearly articulated as one of the many ranges of sexual expression and identity in schools, gay and curious pupils would be able to learn about it in a safe environment, instead of having to find out for themselves.

However, the support of parents, teachers’ associations and school boards was essential, he said.

“You can never repress your gay identity for long. If it is done in secret and if it is done in fear, you could expose yourself to STIs, HIV, blackmail and danger.”

Lindsey Lewis, school councillor and Life Orientation teacher at Edgemead High School, said that if it was going to be taught in schools, it would need to handled carefully: “If it’s going to be taught, we need to know that the information we are divulging is age appropriate, and is something that can be handled by learners of that age.

“I wouldn’t want to see that (gay sex education) being taught before Grade 9 because we get late developers and early developers.

“I think that the only time that becomes relevant to teaching is when you are dealing with pupils who are in puberty and who obviously are at that stage grappling with that issue. At that stage it would be fair to introduce it, but in a very sensitive and objective manner without prejudice and judgements attached to the way that you are putting the information across.”

A woman in her 20s who did not want to be named recently married her girlfriend.

She said she wished she had learnt about gay sex in school instead of being left to figure it out for herself.

“I think I would’ve appreciated gay sex ed in Life Orientation – how relationships might be, breaking down stigmas and things – like gays can get STDs. The only way I found out how to have sex was just by doing it. And watching lots of porn, but that has problems in itself, and reading online about lesbian erotica.”

For actor and drama teacher, Alastair Kingon it was also a trial and error process: “I kind of didn’t know exactly what to do, so I didn’t do anything extremely complicated.

“Mostly I just did what felt good, which I suppose isn’t the best thing to go by.”

He said he was grateful to have had an understanding partner.

“My partner was quite understanding, probably because he would have gone through the same experience of not being taught what’s done, how things are done and what you should look out for.”

Social media consultant, Darron Diesel, didn’t think that gay sex should be taught in schools.

“Sexual intercourse between a man and a woman is taught so that we know how to procreate, whereas gay sex is purely for pleasure, and pleasure differs for everyone.

“We all like different things so I don’t think it should be taught.”

He said pleasure should be a journey of self-discovery: “You can teach people things until you’re blue in the face but given the choice, they’re still going to do it how they like.”

Instead, Diesel said more time should be spent on teaching acceptance and understanding of LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer ) people.

[email protected]

Cape Argus