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London Academy of Sex and Relationships

October 7th, 2005

Dr Petra

The papers today are full of promise. There’s a forthcoming academy of sex and relationships planned for London.

The proposed 4.7 million pound project will be housed in the Trocadero off Piccadilly Circus and promises to teach people how to be better lovers and to prevent sexually transmitted infections. Years ago when the Trocadero was a hotel my grandfather was a chef there. What he’d have made of this planned sex academy I really don’t know.

But it’s apparently got the backing of the Terrence Higgins Trust, the Sexual Dysfunction Association and Relate.

And it will be interesting to see how it works. Already in the UK there are many opportunities to learn about sex – from education classes run out of sex shops or by enthusiastic sex pioneers, through to more traditional places like sexual and reproductive health centres.

On the one hand it could be a great breakthrough in reducing sexual stigma, increasing knowledge and making sex more accessible. On the other it could be yet another commercial venture trying to take our cash and playing on our sex anxieties.

Hopefully it’ll be the former rather than the latter.

Interestingly in the UK currently there’s a growing group of sex classes being run from bars, sex stores and other places that aren’t staffed by trained and skilled sex educators, but by those who’ve self-appointed as ‘sexperts’ but don’t have the knowledge to really help the public they claim to be serving. Hopefully if the sex and relationships academy in London is reputable then this will highlight the poor quality classes offered elsewhere.

There will be tensions around existing services, so hopefully the academy will also signpost people to free sexual and reproductive health services and draw on the knowledge and skills of those already working in this area.

I’ve heard rumours about this planned academy for a while and have been approached by staff putting the centre together. The one thing that hasn’t been made clear is who is funding this venture and their skills or motives – a bit of transparency amongst the hype would be nice to reassure us all this is a professional sex-positive move, not just another opportunity to sell us stuff.

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