How Irish Snapchatter James Kavanagh is changing sex education

"A lot of teenagers were messaging me thinking I was lying"

How Irish Snapchatter James Kavanagh is changing sex education

James Kavanagh | Image: Jack Quann

Sex education in Irish schools - or lack thereof - has always been a point of debate.

But now one Irish man on social media app Snapchat is teaching his young followers about the birds and the bees.

James Kavanagh gives sex education classes on a Tuesday night over the internet.

He told Dr Ciara Kelly on Alive and Kicking: "Some teenagers were getting in touch saying all they're taught is 'penis + womb = baby' - so it doesn't seem that there's a grade of sex education in Ireland at all.

"I was like 'right, I'm going to teach sex education on my Snapchat every Tuesday' - and I started to do it maybe two months ago, and it just gets an insane reaction.

"I was talking about oral sex and the different kinds of STIs you can get from oral sex, and a lot of teenagers were messaging me thinking I was lying.

"They thought the only STI you can get is HIV from penetrative sex - that's it.

"They hadn't heard of gonorrhoea or syphilis, they didn't know you could get this from oral sex.

"Statistically, STIs are massively on the rise by the same age group that are in school not being taught sex education.

"I just have no idea why it isn't part of science, or SPHE or whatever."

"One gay person wrote to me and said 'I thought gay people just got STIs' - they didn't know straight people could get STIs.

"So there's just a total misinformation".

Kavanagh is informing his audience about everything - from how to put on a condom to getting tested.

"I actually demonstrated on a rolling pin how to put a condom on...I run through different STIs and how you can catch them.

"Really bringing to light the variety of different ways you can get STIs and how easy it is to get them.

"The main message I always try and put through at the end is the importance of getting checked.

"There's such an embarrassment about going to a clinic, being seen at a clinic and I'm just trying to - in my own way - chip away at that stigma".