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#WomensHealthAwareness: Why Sex Ed in Schools Is B**llsh*t

All I remember from middle school sex ed was uncomfortably laughing when my teacher pulled out genital diagrams and told us to label them. That, and to not have sex until we were married. I think we all can agree that public school (and by some extent, religious private schools) failed at accurately educating students about sexual health and wellness. Not once was I told about yeast infections, endometriosis, how an IUD works or why consent is so important. The only method of birth control we learned about was abstinence. Now, I’m not shaming abstinence; if that’s what you want to do, then by all means. It’s just not realistic when you consider the number of teenagers regularly having sex. According to CNN, only 24 schools mandate for students in public school to have a sex ed class. Of those 24, only eight require mention of consent or sexual assault. Our education system is in need of serious reform if we want teens to actually be educated about safe sex practices, contraceptives and that having sex before you’re married doesn’t diminish your character or morals (as so many of our teachers told us).

I’m in a fantastic Facebook group for college students called Babes Who Blade, where people ask for advice, recommendations, network and provide support on all sorts of issues. This morning, I posted asking for people to comment their experiences with middle school/high school sex ed, what they learned vs. what they didn’t learn until later and how it impacted the rest of their high school/college years. I was shocked by some of the responses. Many people commented that fear tactics were used to scare them into not having sex, such as showing graphic pictures of STDs, neglecting to talk about contraceptives (one person mentioned that she didn’t know what a condom was until college) and listening to teachers preach that sex before marriage was sinful and guys would only value them if they kept their virginity intact. Furthermore, many mentioned that inclusivity for members of the LGBT community was almost always left out, as well as talk about masturbation for girls. Sexual assault and consent are another couple issues most sex ed classes don’t mention, and unfortunately, a lot of girls talked to me about how they didn’t even realize when they were assaulted in high school or college because they had never been taught what consent or bodily autonomy was. Education about the female body left much to be desired, as most classes focus on the male body. Disturbingly, a lot of people commented that they never had a sex ed class in middle or high school, or they were just given handouts because the teachers were uncomfortable talking about it. One girl who went to a Christian high school was taught that girls can get pregnant from anything because “sperm can live on your clothes and find their way into your vagina.” Another girl direct messaged me to talk about how she was never taught that antibiotics can interfere with birth control, which resulted in her getting pregnant at age 19. She ended up miscarrying and endured tremendous emotional trauma that could have been avoided had she received a comprehensive sex education.

Out of the 101 people that commented on my post, maybe four said they had accurate educations about sexual health and wellbeing. Even though everyone said that it still wasn’t enough and more could have been covered. The general consensus was that sex ed classes are very heteronormative and gender exclusive and that discussion about different gender identities did not happen at all. If a class did touch on contraceptives, it would typically be about condoms and sometimes birth control pills, but no other methods were mentioned. No one was taught how to have a healthy sexual relationship and avoid things like yeast infections or more importantly, an UNWANTED PREGNANCY. Both public schools and private schools have failed my generation and the generations before us, but it’s not too late to fix things. Changing the curriculum and the aggressive way in which sex ed is taught will solve a lot of problems our society faces.

Check out Babes Who Blade here! https://www.facebook.com/groups/2331565117068679/

Erin Campagna

Chapel Hill '22

Erin is a first year at UNC-Chapel Hill double majoring in English and Communications with a minor in History. On campus, she is also on the club swim team and involved in Carolina for the Kids on the Public Relations committee. She is an avid reader and can't imagine living without being surrounded by books. In her limited free time, Erin enjoys going to concerts, traveling and hanging out with her friends.
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