Big W, a leading retail chain, recently took the controversial sex and consent education book  “Welcome to Sex” off its physical store shelves. The book was co-authored by Dr. Melissa Kang, an expert in adolescent health and personality known as “Dolly Doctor,” and journalist and TV star Yumi Stynes. 

The two created the book to address the intimate needs of young people. The book dives into subjects like communication, relationships, and sexual diversity.

The book covers a range of subjects, such as self-pleasure, secure sexual practices, giving permission, uncomfortable sexual situations, and gender identification. 

Big W spoke in support of the book, describing its content as decent for a specific age group and inclusive, and added that parents can decide what is fitting for their household.

The decision to pull the book from Big W’s stores came after store employees reportedly faced abuse from customers who were outraged by the book’s content. A spokesperson for Big W told reporters, “While opinions about the book are varied, it’s unfortunate that our team members have been subjected to abusive behaviour. In the interest of the safety of our staff and customers, the book will now only be available online.”

The book has attracted both severe criticism from religious groups and strong support from some parents. Critics have argued that its content is far too explicit for young people, with some comparing it to ‘grooming.’ Meanwhile, people in favour praise the book for its educational value and inclusivity, which many say is missing from sex education. 

Conservative pundits who have used social media platforms to denounce the book as ‘unsuitable’ have further widened the divide between parents and educators. 

Hardie Grant, the book’s publishing house, defended its release, explaining to reporters that the book resulted from extensive research involving interviews with adolescents and experts in adolescent and childhood development. Kate Brown, the managing director of Hardie Grant, emphasised, “Every young person develops at their own rate, and parents and caregivers are encouraged to make their own decisions about what is appropriate to share with their family.”

The controversy spotlights a broader issue regarding where young people are getting their information about sex and consent. In 2019, the Australian Institute of Family Studies showed that 53% of male participants and 14% of female participants had intentionally watched pornography before the age of 16. This brings up red flags about young people depending on adult films and entertainment to get information about sex. 

With the ongoing debate, the book’s sales have surged dramatically. This means that despite its removal from Big W’s shelves, there’s still a lot of demand for the book and the information it contains. 

The removal of “Welcome to Sex” from Big W’s in-store shelves has led to a polarising discussion about sex education that will probably continue for the months to come. While the book is no longer available in physical stores because of fears for employee safety, it will still be available online for parents and teens interested in its content.