An online “sextionary” targeting teenagers has been shuttered after Christian groups complained that its content was “dangerous and degrading.”
The “Respect Yourself” guidance, set up by NHS Warwickshire, Warwickshire County Council, and Coventry Council in the West Midlands region of England and endorsed by Public Health Warwickshire, has been taken offline and is “under review” after parents and various Christian groups complained, the Sunday Times reported.
Launched in 2012, the controversial website included a 47-page “sextionary” – a glossary of explicit sexual vocabulary – along with definitions of slang terms for genitalia, and a question-and-answer section covering a variety of sexual acts, according to the Telegraph. The website also included an area where users could click on pictures of a man and woman to find their “pleasure zones.”
Additionally, the online guidance reportedly condoned promiscuity, with one section telling girls about the best way to sleep with a stranger.
It said: “If you are on a girls’ holiday and make the decision to sleep with someone you’ve just met – for safety’s sake, take them back to your place, where you know your friends are only in the next room."
The site also included more explicit content about masturbation, pornography, and prostitution and informed teenagers that while the age of consent is 16, every individual is the only person who knows when they are ready to have sex.
“The law says you are not old enough to decide for your self until you are 16 – as this is the age the law sees us as being mature enough to decide,” read the website. “You are the only one who knows when you are ready. Some are ready before, some not till much later.”
The council’s project manager for the site, Amy Danahay, told Channel 4 News that the site was created to speak to teenagers “in their language and provide information in a medium that we know they use and which is monitored by professionals.”
She also claimed the site “has been based on thorough research into what young people need, how they want to access the information and how it should be presented.”
But following continued complaints from Christian groups, the Warwickshire County Council this week pulled the site down while it reviews its content.
The Christian Institute’s Deputy Director Simon Calvert criticized the website, saying: “Respect seems to be the last thing on the minds of the people responsible for this appalling material.
“Young people deserve to be treated with dignity, not spoken down to as if they have no self-control or moral compass.
“Compiling an A-to-Z that includes some of the most dangerous and degrading sexual practices imaginable and presenting them all to young people as equally valid and healthy is profoundly irresponsible.”
Back in 2012, Norman Wells, director of the Family Education Trust, a national charity, told the Telegraph that the website only “paid lip service” to the legal age of consent, noting, “It pretty much tells young people they can engage in sexual activity whenever they feel ready, regardless of what the law says.”
“Parents throughout the region will be appalled that health professionals have supported the development of a resource that condones sexual experimentation by young people and uses crude and sometimes even foul language,” he said.
Wells called the site “grossly irresponsible” and a “complete misuse of taxpayers' hard-earned cash.”
“Many of the topics covered are totally unnecessary and positively unhelpful. Young people — and older people for that matter — simply don't need a 'sextionary' containing an A-Z of all manner of sexual practices and perversions,” he said.
“It merely encourages an unhealthy obsession with physical acts and will do nothing to help young people build healthy relationships or prepare them for a stable and fulfilling marriage in the future. Not only does the site include a considerable volume of unhealthy and unhelpful content, but much of the information provided is not even accurate.”
The shuttering of the site comes just weeks after the same council was criticized for a Relationships Education resource, which told children as young as six years old about the concepts of “touching themselves and self-stimulation,” reports Sputnik News.
A section titled “Touching Myself, All About Me” suggested that masturbating in the bath, shower or bed would be most appropriate for children.
Matthew Seymour, who has two sons at a Warwickshire primary school which used the resource, told The Christian Institute, “This sexualization of our children is just totally inappropriate.”
“We don’t want to start picket lines and wave banners. We’re just an ordinary family. I think many families who had seen these lesson plans would feel the same way we did.”
The Christian Institute’s education officer, John Denning, said, “If schools are teaching about sexual activity or sexual relationships, then it is sex education, whatever the school calls it. Parents have a right to request their children are withdrawn from sex education, a request which primary schools must always grant.
“And it is the school’s duty to consult with parents and provide relationships education which is appropriate to children’s age and religious background.”