Putting the Sex in Sex-Ed
How the Sexual Education of Young People Needs an Update
Sexual education in this country (America) is a bit incomplete. Mostly, it involves displaying the worst cases of the most horrifying sexually transmitted diseases on a projector painting them as what will happen if you dare to partake.
At least, that was the version I was given in high school. Some schools don’t allow that much of an education at all.
John Oliver covered it gloriously a while ago on Last Week Tonight. I've attached the video to the end of this article.
Did you watch it? Great!
Okay, first of all, sex can be fun.
There, I said it.
Telling someone whose biology is raging at them 24/7 to tickle their bits, “ABSTINENCE ONLY!” is not only a tad unreasonable, but it is emotionally confusing.
I’m not discounting the need for sexual education; quite the contrary. My issue is that we are doing this generation a disservice by giving half truths and one-sided propaganda. How can we expect good and healthy sexual choices from a generation that was told wanting healthy and good sex is wrong? Why do we draw the line at partial facts?
Do we really want the porn industry to be the only understanding of sex adolescents know? Don’t kid yourselves people-today’s teens can fire up a browser from any device, and probably hide the search from you.
Instead of only saying don’t have sex, let’s say “When you do have sex, use birth control because it is hard to be a sophomore in high school and a new parent at the same time. There will come a time later in life when you will be better equipped to handle that level of responsibility.”
Instead of scaring them with images of STD mutilated genitals, and implying it is an absolute side effect of sex, show them how to use a condom, and explain in realistic terms why. Sure, show them the slide show. But show them the condom on a cucumber too. Let girls know it is okay to have a condom with you, just in case. It doesn’t only belong in a boy’s wallet. And most of all, instead of shaming them into silence, tell them what to do and where to go to treat an STD so that they don’t spread it out of embarrassment of admitting they need treatment.
Let’s also open the discussion about what sex really is. Explain the emotions and the after effects of this choice- and not only as a deterrent, but as enlightening information. I think we can all honestly say mental well-being can be affected by sex, and it would be helpful to know that from the start. It would be helpful to know how your first experience impacts the rest of your life. How maybe, just maybe, you are too young to deal with that experience. Talk about how the opinion of your peers and pressure from your beau can drive you to do something you are not ready to do. Teach them to stand up for themselves. Teach them not to push one another around. Teach them how to talk about it among themselves.
For the love of pepperoni—don't fling slogans at them like: "Don't give in to peer pressure." Explain how!
Perhaps we can admit that this weird lack of open and balanced information might contribute to the culture we live in. The one that allows sexual harassment and rape because we never really talk about it- and when we do it is because it already happened.
Sex-ed needs a reboot. Let’s really educate our youth, and perhaps prevent some of the issues society faces, rather than putting on blinders and shaking our heads at the fallout.
About the author
Sant is a poet and author. She writes on a variety of subjects from her own personal journey to fictional tales. She recently moved back to California from Chicago. She is very grateful for your readership, and would be thankful for shares.