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“Sex education is a human right”: New Sex Ed Book Club tackles stigma in Sheffield

Kerry Miller explains more about why she's creating a space for all demographics to discuss everything sex, via an event series at Juno Books.

Kerry miller sex ed book club

Kerry Miller, founder of Sex Ed Book Club.

Dan West

Kerry Miller is a PhD research student at the University of Sheffield exploring the language of sex education teaching, in particular the messages that schools relay around contraception.

Miller’s passion for the topic was ignited by her frustration at the gaps in sex ed that she experienced growing up, and her own experiences with various contraceptive methods and subsequent illness.

“Sex education is a human right to deny people the education is a violation,” she tells me. “It’s damaging to not teach people what their bodies do, and what they can do with their bodies.”

Miller has noticed that there are many people in their 20s, 30s and 40s who have questions about sex due to the gaps in their own education as an adolescent. She hopes her new book club can start to tackle this problem in Sheffield.

The idea of a sex ed book club arose from Miller’s works with charity Fumble, which fights stigma around sex by providing resources for young people, by young people. She wanted to come up with a way to fundraise for Fumble while at the same time providing a space to discuss sex and related topics. Each book club ticket price includes a donation to the cause.

Miller contacted Rosie and Sarah, co-owners of Sheffield’s intersectional feminist bookshop Juno Books, with the idea of launching Sex Ed Book Club in their space. They were very keen to be a part of the project.

“We believe in the power of books to destroy taboos, give people the chance to see their experience reflected back at them and the confidence to speak about it,” Sarah explains.

My Body by Emily Ratajkowski

At the first event, held last month at Juno Books, the group appropriately discussed Sex Ed by Ruby Rare. Miller considered this the perfect introduction to the book club.

Monthly events will be themed and tickets include a copy of the book. The next event on 12 February will explore the body with My Body by Emily Ratajkowski. Future themes could include menstruation, trans experience and asexuality. Miller is passionate about the community she creates being inclusive and welcoming to all.

The excitement that January’s attendees brought with them was a delight for Miller. She says they were eager to share thoughts and really allow the discussion to come alive. She has also seen a lot of engagement with the book club’s social media – a sign that more and more people in the city are eager to talk more about sex.

“If people come away having learned something and are more understanding and respectful of each other, I think that’s a win for a more inclusive and a better world.”

Learn more

Tickets for February's Sex Ed Book Club, which include a copy of My Body, are available via Juno Books for £12.

The event is on 12 February, 11.30am-1pm at Juno Books on Chapel Walk.

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