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What I Wish I Learned in Sex Ed

If you ask anyone what they learned in sex ed, they usually respond with 'if you have sex you'll die' or 'you can get pregnant from a toilet seat'. We weren't taught much about our bodies, other people's bodies, pleasure, consent, methods of birth control, queer sex, the LGBT+ community, masturbation- the list goes on. As a bisexual woman, here are a few things I wish I learned in sex ed. While the list isn't anywhere near complete, it's a good start!

  1. 1. Consent is always necessary, on both sides.


    Consent is the cardinal rule of a healthy and mutually beneficial sexual experience. Both parties must verbally acknowledge each sex act being engaged in and every time something changes. You can be completely naked and say no. They can be completely naked and say no. Consent creates trust which then ultimately leads to better sex and a healthier outlook on yourself, your sexual partner and relationship.

  2. 2. This conversation should be inclusive.


    Chances are, your sex ed class didn't talk about queer sex, asexuality, gender identity, or sexual identity. First things first, it is important to note that there is a difference between sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. It is important to understand the various nonbinary identities when engaging in a sexual relationship (and just in general). Gender identity is how you, in your head, think about yourself. It is the chemistry that composes you and how you interpret what that means. Gender expression is how you demonstrate your gender (sometimes based on traditional gender roles) through the way you dress, behave, and interact with others. Biological sex is the objectively measured organs, hormones, and chromosomes that you are born with. Sexual orientation is who you are physically or emotionally attracted to based on their sex/gender in relation to your own. Sex ed can be very singular and only offer cisnormative and heteronormative education.

  3. 3. A refresher on LGBTQ+ terminology.

    two people holding hands

    Using the correct terminology matters and you should never assume someone's gender or sexual identity. Misgendering is painful and can really hurt someone. Let's cover the basics. The full acronym, LGBTQQIAAP, can be shortened to LGBT+ which is inclusive of everyone that identifies in the community.

    L: Lesbian: A woman primarily attracted to other women.

    G: Gay: A man primarily attracted to other men; sometimes a broad term for same-sex attraction.

    B: Bisexual: An individual attracted to their own gender and the opposite gender.

    T: Transgender: A person whose gender identity differs from their assigned sex at birth.

    T: Transexual: People who have altered their gender identity through surgery and hormones (an outdated term coined by medical communities).

    Q: Queer: An umbrella term used to be inclusive of the many identities that make up the LGBT+ community.

    Q: Questioning: The process of exploring one's sexual orientation, sexual identity, gender identity, and gender expression.

    I: Intersex: An individual whose sexual anatomy or chromosomes do not fit the traditional markers of female or male.

    A: Ally: Typically a non-queer person who supports and advocates for the queer community.

    A: Asexual: An indidvudal who does not feel sexual desire or attraction to any group of people. *Different from celibacy.

    P: Pansexual: A person who experiences sexual, romantic, and physical attraction to members of all gender identities and expressions.

  4. 4. Masturbation is normal. So is not masturbating.

    Girl Lying On Bed Close Up

    Most masturbation conversations surround men and/or penises. It's almost if the mere concept of vaginal masturbation is too ridiculous to teach. Y'all. Masturbation is not weird or shameful for anyone of any gender or sexual identity. The idea of masturbation is to understand what feels good for your body and it actually benefits your health and sexual interactions.

  5. 5. Porn is not a realistic guide to good sex.

    Anna Schultz-Girl Using Laptop On Bed

    Should I make those noises? Should I look like that? Does my partner actually like this? All valid questions that usually come up after watching porn. However, there are so many misrepresentations of what makes sex good in mainstream porn, which can skew the reality of what makes sex good. It is important that everyone knows about diversity in sex and what real people having consensual sex should look like.

  6. 6. Your worth is not dependent on your number of sexual partners.

    Anna Schultz-Girl In Bed Silk Slip

    Having sex does not make you a whore or a slut. Sex is okay. Sex allows you to explore your sexuality, gender, and body. It allows you to experience pleasure, relaxation, and normal human functions. Your worth does not depend your virginity or 'filling a roster'. Have sex or don't but do not make other people feel less for who they have sex with, how many people they have sex with, or when they decide to have sex. And finally, vaginal looseness is not an indicator of promiscuity. Everyone's vagina is different and one sexual encounter or one hundred does not change the biological makeup of your vagina.

  7. 7. STD/STI testing is crucial to sexual health but there is more to sexual health beyond STIs.

    There are doctors standing in the hallway of a hospital.

    After engaging in sex with a new partner, it is important to get tested for STD/STIs. But there is more to sexual health than STDs. Ladies, you must pee after sex. It will decrease the chances of infection. Additionally, there are nonsexual infections like yeast infections or bacterial vaginosis. Erectile dysfunction is also an indication that something's wrong. It is important to know your body and know when something doesn't quite feel right.

  8. 8. There are so many types of birth control.

    Kristen Bryant-Colorful Medicine Jumble

    There are 15 methods of birth control. The pill isn't the only one. Please talk to your doctor before deciding on the pill. Condoms are also always a great way to protect yourself from unwanted prenancy, STDs, and STIs.

There are obviously so many more things we should have learned in sex ed. Sex shouldn't only be painful and scary, it should be an open conversation about pleasure, health, and inclusivity. For more resources on sex education, click here.

Sources: 1, 2, 3

Photos: Her Campus Media Library