Letter: Sex education

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The Independent Online
Tessa Jowell's recent comments on the need for better sex education in schools (report, 9 February) should be welcomed by everyone who is concerned about Britain's high rate of teenage pregnancies and continuing HIV infections among young gay men. But it is vital that ministers now back up their words with action.

First, we need earlier sex education and freely available contraception, as in Holland, where under-16 conception rates are nine times lower than in the UK, and age at first intercourse higher.

Second, it is time for sex education to be included in the National Curriculum, so that all children are able to access appropriate and important health information.

Third, the stain on British law that is section 28 of the 1988 Local Government Act, which inhibits teachers and others from providing critical advice to young gay men, must be repealed.

The absence of sexual health from all but two paragraphs of the recent Green Paper Our Healthier Nation makes ministerial action even more urgent. Talking about sex is important; acting on sex education is vital.

Dr EVAN HARRIS MP

Liberal Democrat NHS Spokesman

House of Commons

London SW1

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