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Sexuality and sexual health education university course to be taught in Ireland for the first time

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Sexuality and sexual health education university course to be taught in Ireland for the first time

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One of the course’s core objectives is to ‘train a generation of educators in sexuality sexual health’ for the first time Rex Features

The topic of sex has always been somewhat out-of-bounds in Ireland, but that’s all set to change with the launch of a groundbreaking new university-taught course in the country.

Dublin City University (DCU) has announced it will be offering a programme in sexuality and sexual health education for the first time come September.


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The institution announced on its website the course’s content will focus on developing knowledge around the diversity of sexualities, culture and sexual health education and promotion.

The programme will also work to equip participants with “appropriate, accurate, evidence-based, up-to-date knowledge, and free from discrimination, gender bias, and stigma.” 

DCU said the launch had come shortly after a national sexual health strategy highlighted how the importance of promoting sexual health, wellbeing, and reducing negative sexual health outcomes could only be achieved by “high-quality training for relevant professionals.”

The same strategy also found over 35 per cent of women had experienced an unplanned pregnancy, and that the highest rate of STIs was among those under the age of 25 and sexually active gay men.

Furthermore, negative sexual health outcomes were found to be prevalent in early school leavers, young people in care or aftercare, people with disabilities or mental health challenges, and in the LGBT community.

The idea for the course came after discussions between lecturers and students on DCU’s Master’s degree course in sexuality studies, reports the Irish Examiner.

DCU programme chair and lecturer in sociology and sexuality studies, Dr Mel Duffy, told the site: “When we talked about the education the students had, they reported having had very minimal sexual education at second level.”

Denise Proudfoot, a lecturer in Nursing at DCU, added: “The course will deal with everything from STIs to contraception and cervical smears.”


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Dr Duffy also acknowledged how society has changed “enormously” in the last number of decades, adding: “But significant work still remains with regards to discussing our sexual health, sexual identity, and gender identity in an open and transparent manner.

“Research has shown embarrassment is still a major factor when it comes to discussing sex and sexuality, and this is of significant concern when it comes to educating our future generations. This course will approach these topics free from stigma or bias, delivering up-to-date and evidence-based content. It is about providing the knowledge and is of significant interest to professionals working in this field, but so too to those who will have to deal with these topics – in any capacity – whether it is in a school, home, or work setting.”

Anita Ghafoor-Butt, training and development manager with the Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA) – which helped to devise the course – added: “This programme provides an integrated and best practice approach to sexual health within a quality assured framework at a third level institution. The IFPA will also facilitate delivery programme modules, in partnership with DCU, and will provide practical and evidence-based learning on sexual health and wellbeing.”

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