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Predictably this has caused the usual moral outcry from Christian groups and claims that this is sexualising children. On a recent televised debate, I expressed the views that the discussion with teenagers was appropriate and that we cannot deny the existence of the porn industry and its place in modern society.

Nobody is suggesting that that porn is shown as part of the sex education lessons but knowledge is indeed power and to allow the discussion in the safe classroom environment is healthy. By talking in an open and honest way we are taking the demonization of porn away and allowing teenagers to see it for what it is, an expression of human sexuality. We are equipping them with the skills to make an informed choice. Lessons on drugs and alcohol are common place; these inform and advise about the dangers of addiction. Of course, this in an important aspect of the discussion and education of pornography. For example a young gay man may only have the opportunity to express themselves through pornography and they may be in particular risk of becoming addicted.

Beyond that it enables us to open into the discussion about body types and imagery. Indeed in gay porn the types typically represented are classically either slim feminine looking “twinks” or smooth muscular jocks. For the young gay man coming to terms with his sexuality and masculinity, it can be confusing and intimidating to feel that they need to confirm to these sexual types. The message being sent is that only these types have active satisfying sex lives and considered desirable. Not everyone is toned, hairless, beautiful and waxed, that is an image that is represented because it the most commercially viable.

The other discussion that is prevalent within the porn industry is unsafe sex practices and the rise of bareback porn. Nobody in the porn industry is completely reckless and studios that film in this manner insist that performers are regularly tested and validated before filming scenes. However, this is not represented to the average teenager viewing porn across the internet in the seclusion of their bedroom.

What bareback porn does is normalise reckless sexual behaviour. The latest figures from Public health England indicates a rise of 5% in STD infections in the past year with chlamydia and gonorrhoea being the highest cause reported cases. The discussion of safe sex is already happening but clearly, the message is being lost.

Pornography can allow young men and woman to explore their fantasies in a safe manner. It may be the case that they are not entirely comfortable with the concept of same-sex attraction or bisexuality. Through viewing porn or reading erotica, it allows the teenager to define and experiment with their own sexual identity. Pornography allows them the space to express this desire without feeling intimidated and free from judgment.

Returning to the central argument, I have provided reasons as to why it is important for us to engage with teenagers about pornography as part of sex education. As I said before knowledge is power and it is important that we pass that power onto the most vulnerable members of society. If we choose to ignore the porn industry, then we run risk of being naive at best and ignorant at worst, and ignorance is never a lesson we should be teaching.

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Opinions expressed in this article may not reflect those of THEGAYUK, its management or editorial teams. If you'd like to comment or write a comment, opinion or blog piece, please click here.