Ebony, 20, SA

“I wish the government knew and cared about sexual health issues facing young people, and the stigma and lack of education surrounding the topic of sex.

As a young person, I am fortunate enough to grow up in a generation which is actively reducing sexual stigmas. However, I feel like we were left behind in schools, with sexual education only covering arbitrary activities like putting condoms on bananas. A few giggles in class don’t make up for the many areas of sex that were ignored or considered taboo throughout my education in those crucial years.

As someone living with sexual dysfunction, I struggled for many years not knowing what was ‘wrong’ with me, feeling isolated, alienated and alone throughout some formative teenage years. With some basic education, I could have been saved years of insecurity and unhealthy relationships not only with others but with myself. We need to start talking about sex, and shining a positive light on what is an awesome experience that everyone should be able to enjoy should they wish. I wish the government knew that their educational programs miss really important aspects of sex, such as dysfunction, masturbation, consent and abuse.

Sex is not like the movies, and with a generation of young people relying on pornography for their sexual education we are setting the expectations and ‘norms’ at a ‘Hollywood’ level. This is disheartening and disempowering, pornography should be used alongside a healthy sexual education rather than in replacement of.

Furthermore, I wish the government would assist in educating people on sexual abuse, and supporting preventative programs so we can reduce the horrifying statistics that currently stand.

I want to see leaders not only recognise, but embrace sexual liberation and freedom as the new ‘norm’, and have mature conversations about how we can progress as a society in supporting everyone to have the healthiest lives possible.”