The final season of “Sex Education” pays tribute to a little-known and much-missed member of the series’ team.
No spoilers, but the fourth season of Sex Education – currently at the top of the Netflix charts – takes us on an emotional roller coaster with a proper farewell.
Sex Education has always been an exemplary series for its LGBTQIA+ representation, done in a nuanced way from the start, with major characters like Eric Effiong (Ncuti Gatwa) having key storylines and becoming fan favorites.
An episode of season 4 is particularly moving. This is episode five dedicated to someone called Shay Patten-Walker. Throughout this episode, we follow Cal, the first non-binary main character of the series, introduced in season 3 and played by Dua Saleh.
Cal finds his transition process difficult and must learn to manage his emotions, accept how he feels, while juggling the feeling of being alone and isolated.
This difficult period leads Cal to feel out of place to the point of depression. This story arc – which extends beyond this episode – resonates greatly with Shay Patten-Walker’s journey which had a significant impact on the development of Cal’s character and likely the season’s transgender characters, Abbi (Anthony Lexa) and Roman (Felix Mufti).
Who was Shay Patten-Walker and what was her impact on Sex Education?
Shay Patten-Walker, who used the pronouns they/them in English and therefore iel in French, was a transgender activist who sadly died in February 2022 after taking his own life at the age of 24. They worked as a gender consultant for Sex Education and collaborated closely on writing arcs centered around Cal.
After studying at the University of Greenwich, Patten-Walker worked as a freelance speaker and presenter for various LGBTQ+ and human rights organizations. The director ofRico Jacob Chance, his friend and colleague at UK Black Pride, wrote in a tribute on Instagram:
“Shay was a pillar of the Trans/NB community. They knew everyone, loved everyone and supported everyone. Even at the age of 24, he was a youth worker, poet, speaker and activist.”
“I only learned at his memorial ceremony that they had worked with Netflix to create diversity on screen, which shows the humility they showed. They used their voice to inspire, educate and empower, creating positive change and uplifting the community. We love you, Shay, and I’m glad you found peace. Your light will never be forgotten.”