Why Sex Education Season 2 is so important to me

After the hilarious but poignant and relevant first season of Sex Education last year, it’s no surprise that a second season was made, and after finishing it in less than 24 hours I had never felt quite so represented.

The vivid colours and Welsh landscape shots make Sex Education seem almost innocuous to start with, but this show is home to diversity and comical reality, the type that makes shame melt away with the realisation that you’re not alone. I loved the first season, and I was so excited about some new episodes. I love the characters, I love the storylines, I love the slightly weird combo of American and English school culture.

But being asexual, I always thought that I would be alone in not having representation on the show. It didn’t upset me as such – I’ve been misrepresented and/or missing from the media for as long as I remember. I didn’t even know the term existed until I was 14, when I was beginning to feel like a misfit (which I am, in several ways, but that’s not the point). I never would have had the realisation if it wasn’t for Tumblr, which seemed to be the age-old site for discovering who you were back when I was an early teenager.

But it shouldn’t have to be. Asexuality is represented more through more mainstream social media like Twitter and Instagram now, including through hashtags such as #ThisIsWhatAsexualityLooksLike, but traditional media still severely misses the mark.

So when Florence turned up in the fourth episode, I felt a sense of hope and fear all in the same moment, because what little asexual representation I’ve seen over the years has been completely inaccurate. I assumed Otis and his mum would shrug her off and just tell her she wasn’t ready, that she hasn’t met the right person yet, that she was just a late developer. Most of us have heard it all. When she spoke to Otis, I rolled my eyes a bit – I was right.

But what was more important was when she spoke to Jean. When Florence softly said she felt broken, I was immediately transported back to 2014. This was a phrase that I said over and over again until I scrolled upon that random blog post. Even more importantly, Jean explained it without probing her like a science experiment or acting like Florence was some sort of strange phenomenon. The mention that some of us still want romantic relationships nearly had me in tears. Then, I could look at Otis’ reaction and see it was on purpose to display what we typically get told.

I can’t think of many shows more current to young people that so many are actually watching than Sex Education, and if one single teenager (or adult, because the lack of representation means many don’t know of it till they are much older) discovers that they aren’t broken, that they don’t have to force themselves to feel what they don’t, then that will be enough for me. And aside from that – the education it may provide to everyone else, the potential for tolerance and knowledge, is huge. I am so grateful.

In the final episode of the season, Florence says that learning to accept herself has changed her life. I can attest how true that statement is, and I only wish that I had this show when I was still struggling to understand myself, because the realisation wasn’t the end of my journey.

This season also had some great representation of trauma and anxiety that I really appreciated, as well as a disabled character (played by a disabled actor!). There aren’t many marks that Sex Education misses, and I’m already impatiently waiting for another season.

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How things need to change in the next decade – #LetterTo2030 | social action | #iwill

No matter your political opinion, it has to be recognised that some things need to change within the next 10 years for young people in more ways than one. With the beginning of the decade, this month, the #iwill Campaign are asking us Ambassadors and Champions to share what is important to us. I want particular change within health, equality and education – but what needs to happen?

  • Proper mental health funding

Mental health has become a buzzword for the government, yet it still isn’t being properly funded. It’s months before you can be seen and once you are, the chances are you’ll only get a 6 week course of CBT. When I entered the mental health services in 2015, things were a lot better than they are now and it’s sad to have watched things deteriorate instead of get better at a time where there is far more awareness than there was then.

CAMHS needs funding far more, so that mental health is better in young people and teenagers, and to also support this, there should be a trained mental health nurse in schools. Adult services also need to be better, and it shouldn’t be so hard to get a referral. There also needs to be better communication between mental health services and A&E, and better support when you go to A&E with a mental health issue as currently they struggle to know what to do even though we are often told to go there if we have an issue out of hours.

There needs to be change within inpatient mental health units. They currently cause trauma to many patients within their services. They also need better funding, and deserve more support and better facilities. Many of us want to continue our education during our time in the units and the teachers are so passionate, but there’s only so much equipment and they can’t know everything about every subject that each individual studies.

  • Parity of all illnesses – chronic, acute, mental and physical

Everyone says “mental health should be seen as just as important as physical health” which is absolutely true, but chronic physical health issues are not treated equally to acute physical health issues (like a broken leg, which is often the example used) which is continually ignored when parity of esteem is discussed, and the term was used liberally by several political parties during December’s General Election.

It took me 7 years to be diagnosed with HSD after seeing more than 20 doctors and physios, and I had to travel to London for several of these appointments. This is because symptoms are overlooked or disbelieved. What I want to see is parity of acute and chronic illnesses both physical and mental – a broken leg wouldn’t be ignored and neither should depression… But similarly, neither should chronic pain. There also isn’t parity between more commonly discussed mental illnesses and more stigmatised ones such as BPD, which is also hugely important.

  • Accessibility for all (and even more awareness)

Accessibility is beginning to come a long way, but it’s far from the end of the road – there still needs to be more provision made for invisible disabilities, including chronic illnesses and autism. There needs to be better support in schools, including more funding for SEND support. There needs to be a better benefits system, that doesn’t say people are fit for work when they clearly aren’t. There needs to be less discrimination over who can access blue badges or bus passes (because even though the rules have changed on blue badges, people are still being refused them). Disabled people deserve better.

Ableism is still very active in society too, and it’s often looked over in discussions of discrimination. More awareness of different types of disability is needed, even though the message that not all disabilities are visible is spreading, and there needs to be more awareness that disabled young people exist! Using mobility aids, using disabled toilets and asking for help as a young person can be extremely intimidating.

  • The opportunity for everyone to get as much of an education as they want

There are so many reasons that young people don’t get an education to the extent they would like, and that could be just their basic secondary education or a university education. It might be because they live someone that education isn’t a given right and they can’t access it; because are a young carer; because they can’t afford it or have to get a job, or because an education isn’t accessible to their disabilities, and this shouldn’t be seen as acceptable regardless of a child’s circumstances. Education should be a universal, accessible right.

  • Climate change has to be stopped… or the rest becomes pointless.

It seems like the most obvious thing that needs to be changed in the next 10 years, but it has to be said – if the government don’t start taking climate change seriously, 2030 might be a dream in itself.

I’ve got big hopes for the next ten years, and I hope that these things aren’t just lofty dreams. Using the hashtag #LetterTo2030, tell me what you think needs to change in the next decade- because young people can help change the world, and we don’t have to wait until we’re old enough to be in power to do it.