We Need to Talk about PSHE

What’s the easiest way to stamp out prejudice? Against homosexuals? Against other cultures/heritages? Against transexuals? To introduce children to anything unfamiliar while they are still young.

Nearly all children, due to the nature of a family, grow up experiencing a very narrow vision of what life is. Nobody (no one I know anyway) experiences a close relationship with someone of all races, all sexual orientations, all genders (including transexual for example). Very few children (even in early secondary school) are deeply (if at all) aware of feminism, the basics of the political system or racial oppression. ‘Gay’ is STILL a widely used insult in the playground.

It strikes me that the easiest way to prevent the type of attitude lots of children have towards homosexuality, is to teach them all about it. If children were taught about homosexual sex at the same time they are taught about heterosexual sex, not only would the subject become less of a joke (and frankly more boring) but the children who one day realise they are gay would feel far less alienated and confused. And they would have received the same vital sex education (how it works/STIs/etc) to be on the same knowledge platform as their straight peers. This is essential; many teens have no idea what diseases can even affect the LGBTQ+ community. From experience, online sources are pretty shitty. The same goes, obviously, for learning about the rest of the LGBTQ+ community – perhaps particularly important is educating children about what it means to be transgender.***

Another essential topic is sexism. And here, I don’t really mean historical sexism (not that this isn’t important). It’s crucial that children understand that sexism is a very real and current issue. The perils of cat-calling, the wage gap, page 3 and under-representation of women are just some of the many discussions children should be having in the school environment.

Likewise; racism. As with sexism, if you are a member of the more privileged group, it’s vital to listen to the experiences of those in varying groups who still suffer prejudice in 2015. Racism is far too serious a subject NOT to be introduced to young children. Awareness is the first step towards equality and the younger awareness of a need for equality/care/respect is introduced, the less arbitrary, dangerous prejudice is likely to continue. Discussions about the causes of racism, the history of racism and the current climate could really benefit the next generation.

Mental health problems have been on the rise for the last 10 years in Britain, often among younger people. Today, Jeremy Corbyn has created a shadow Minister for Mental Health position. In May’s general election, the Liberal Democrats pledged a £3.5 billion investment in mental health services. This is discussed, but often not early on enough. And the focus should be on learning how to support peers who become ill, what steps to take if you do become ill. Depression, anxiety and self harm are very prevalent issues in schools across the country – spreading awareness will surely help decrease the stigma that surrounds mental health. (read more here and here)

TBH, I’m shocked that this sort of thing isn’t already on the national curriculum and surprised the Liberal Democrats didn’t try to push for a change during their coalition period in government.

What would also be nice would be more political conversation, especially an introduction to Labour and Conservative policies, as well as the FPTP system (and possible alternatives), the House of Commons (and Lords), and political events of the day. It’s not enough to suddenly pressurise voting at an election or signing up to vote when 16. A basic understanding of where one is on the political scale ought to be enabled earlier on. An easy way to reduce political apathy amongst the young (which the govt claim to care about).

Varying family structures is something else that’s been totally ignored (unless you’ve had a visit from a single mum aggressively warning against being a single mum). It’s important to recognise and respect that everyone makes different choices for different reasons, despite intimidating cereal-box-family advertising everywhere.


 

If one has never encountered something, it’s natural to react less than positively. That part is not a choice (though obviously showing hostility is). For the most part, wariness is simply genetic (just think about all that one tribe crap from when we lived in trees – or Two Tribes the TV show tbf). The OBVIOUS solution therefore is education, knowledge being tolerance.

It seems this might be the perfect time to really push for a progressive PSHE curriculum. To me, it’s such a huge chance to ensure Britain’s liberal values keep up with the modern world once more. And although the Conservatives may not always be associated with liberalness or tolerance; researching Nicky Morgan (Minister for Education i.e. the new Gove) has left me relatively hopeful. With her new scheme, with the slightly nauseating title ‘Curriculum for Life’, she claims to believe, “PSHE should be much broader [than simply sex education]. I want more schools to put high-quality PSHE at the heart of their curriculum. It is an essential part of their responsibility to prepare young people for life in modern Britain…”

And if you are reluctant to believe that (Morgan seems to be over-focusing on the internet, in my opinion), whoever is elected Labour leader is going to want to make vote-winning promises. Let’s make sure decent, wide-coverage and ultimately tolerant PSHE is at the top of that list.


*** Another relevant question, WHY isn’t there more representation of the LGBT+ community in children’s TV?? So easy to implement and could overhaul societal attitudes

A Culture Guide (for any emotion you might be feeling) – LDN, September 2015

Feeling…

😰💔 Disheartened by the ongoing refugee crisis and growing anti-immigrant sentiment?

Adopting Britain at the Southbank Centre

This highly topical, interactive exhibition at the Southbank Centre delves into the contribution and experiences of immigrants in the UK’s recent history. Subject matter spans from exploring the music of former asylum-seeker M.I.A, to dispelling the myth that Britain’s Polish community is only a recent phenomenon. Closing this weekend and free to all!

http://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/whatson/adopting-britain-1000878

🎺💃🌍 Groovy?

Tony Allen Review at the Southbank Centre

The Southbank Centre’s Africa Utopia festival is refreshing in its celebration of the music and art of a continent whose culture is often eclipsed by its socio-economic struggles. With a vibrant and varied programme, the highlight is a performance by the legendary Tony Allen – drummer to the late Fela Kuti, who also boasts collaborations with Jarvis Cocker, and being a longtime inspiration to Damon Albarn, demonstrating his versatility and artistic longevity. In addition to Allen’s funk and highlife, Toumani Diabaté will be performing traditional music from Mali (the little-known genre is impressively, but rather poignantly, the forerunner to Southern American blues) and French rapper Oxmo will provide a contemporary aspect with his socially-conscious rap music.

Sunday 13th September. Tickets from £15. Concessions available.

http://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/whatson/tony-allen-review-93077

💸 Strapped for cash?

The Colour of Money Film Season at the Barbican

This film season at the Barbican is dedicated to the contentious topic of money, with films and debates discussing themes such as inequality, bonded-labour, greed, and crime. Screenings range from classics such as American Psycho to lesser-known films like Hyenas by Senegalese master of cinematography Djibril Diop Mambety. At £5 per ticket for under-26s the price is pretty reasonable too.

7th-20th September. Tickets start at £5.

http://www.barbican.org.uk/film/series.asp?id=1492

🎬🇫🇷 Like an introduction to urban French cinema?

Screening of La Haine and Girlhood at Oval Space

La Haine and Girlhood, two instant-classic, art-house films, which provide an insight into the gritty reality of Paris’ suburbs, will be screened back-to-back next Friday. Released 20 years apart, both follow a tight-knit group of emotionally-detached youths, while discussing a myriad of social issues as diverse as their cast.

Friday 11th September. £8. French with subtitles.

http://www.ovalspace.co.uk/events/view/oval-space-cinema-presents-la-haine-and-girlhood/

Abiba, 18 is your culture guru

LGBT rights; yes it’s still a pressing issue

Even in LDN, are LGBT couples as free as heterosexuals?

I read last month that London’s population has grown to the same size as it was in 1939 for the first time since the population shrank rapidly during and after World War II. It is now back at 8.6 million for the first time in those 76 intervening years.

It has also struck me a number of times in the last year or so, how common it is to see straight/heterosexual couples holding hands or kissing in public places like parks and on public transport, and yet very rare to see members of the LGBT community engaged in the same type of behaviour. This might just be my own very peculiar experience, but that doesn’t seem likely. In this city (London) which prides itself on being a modern, forward-thinking capital, it seems alarming to think that even possibly LGBT people are reluctant to behave naturally in public.

According to the Office for National Statistics, which gathers data for the government, 2.5% of the London population is LGBT, which is lower than the 10% figure often quoted in the media, but which is still a pretty large number of people. 215,000, to be precise. If members of the LGBT community do feel reluctant to be themselves in public then that seems very wrong, and I wonder why that is. Perhaps the issue is generational?

The generation currently in power did not grow up in our liberal environment. Most were born when homosexuality was illegal (it was only legalised – for over 21s – in 1969), thus they are likely to see relative equality (in terms of improved conditions). But, this hinders the equal treatment of every individual. To some, public displays of affection may be considered petty, however, if a group of people are afraid or unable to show their true selves in public then London (a tolerant and welcoming city, by reputation anyway) is certainly not setting the example it should.

It’s not enough for our generation to be empathetic and open-minded, we are not in charge. In fact, we are barely an influence. The Tories failed to attract over three quarters of the 43% of 18-24 year olds that turned out to vote. And they are the party in power. It seems the government have somewhat alienated themselves from the “Digital Generation” and are therefore often oblivious to the problems we face. UKIP scares and the right wing views of the growing elderly population, mean that the Conservatives, Labour and Lib Dems have been fighting to improve their chances of power by prioritising these people, inevitably leading to the neglect of younger people and more socially “controversial” issues.

For the LGBT community, representation in politics is far and few. There are currently 6 LGBT MPs in the House of Commons. That’s out of 650 UK MPs. Less than 1%? Whilst the same-sex marriage bill passed in 2013 (well done for catching up America), there were 161 MPs who opposed it (over ¼ of all MPs), and 123 MPs refrained from voting (including new, v popular Lib Dem leader, Tim Farron), meaning 284 MPs did not vote in favour of same-sex marriage, a simple issue and basic right. This is worrying because these are published votes on written law, and in such circumstances it is telling of the everyday treatment and circumstances the LGBT community find themselves in. If just under half of MPs did not support the bill, then do they support equal rights?

There cannot be a bill for every inequality this minority suffers; the right to hold hands in public, or kiss on the tube. Whilst same-sex marriage is a good step forward, the division in the vote shows there are still many members of society stepping back, particularly due to the public example set by politicians, over ¼ of people representing Britons have validated opposing same-sex marriage, in turn, validating inequality.

I think that in order to improve these problems people in power need to assert the fact that mistreatment of minorities is unacceptable, and look at day-to-day inequalities, making changes to their manifestos. The government needs to take a look at things outside of their comfort zone (not only the treatment of the LGBT community). Also, people need to stop being asshats. Seriously, it doesn’t matter how old or young you are, show some respect – age, gender, sexuality or anything else doesn’t change that person from being an intelligent being with important views and beliefs. Anyway, times have changed since our leaders were teenagers, they need to act more in the interests of our generation. It’s time for people to not be so naive and let everybody walk in the sun, as Mae West says: “In olden days, a glimpse of stocking was looked on as something shocking, now heaven knows anything goes.” And so it should.

By Poppy, 14