8 Things I Wish I Learned In Sex Ed

“For the fifth consecutive year, combined cases of gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis have risen in the United States, according to a Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance Report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published on Tuesday,” writes CNN contributor Jacqueline Howard. Not for the first time, America and its views on sexuality are ASS BACKWARDS. Rates for STIs have been especially high in young adults around college age. Additionally, more people are getting tested, while fewer people are wearing condoms.

 

I cannot speak for every young adult in the United States. However, when one examines the previous 20 years in politics relating to sexual education, the high rates of sexually transmitted diseases and infections make perfect sense. Our dear republican leaders like former POTUS George W. Bush and current POTUS Donald Trump decided that they would cut funding for sexual education programs and then promote abstinence-only programs. These programs are proven to not work, employ scare tactics, discuss inaccurate or religiously biased information and are ummmmmm sexist AF!

 

A lot of us have experienced horrible classes much like this one. Girls who have sex in high school will be compared to dirty shoes, used toothbrushes or chewed gum. Why don’t guys get to be those things? Last time I checked, guys were the metaphorical foot that went into the metaphorical shoe! At my school, Operation Keepsake told us lucky ladies that we were tape. Fancy, I KNOW! The more partners you have, the less you “stick” to the person you marry. AHA, clever. (Feel free to look that organization up, I name dropped them for a reason. They hurt a lot of people every year.) If you were in one of the lucky 20 states (YES, less than 50% of the country) that teaches “medically, factually or technically accurate” information, you may at least know the joke Mean Girls tells about sex ed.   

SO basically, I laugh because most of us are willing to have sex and risk death than be abstinent and live! Young people are going to do it … so why not tell us the right information? Below is my ideal comprehensive sex education lesson plan. BANANAS, CUCUMBERS, OTHER OBJECTS AT THEIR MARK!  

 

 

 

  1. 1. How to use a condom.

    Well, here’s our first problem. Many schools that teach abstinence-only sex education barely discuss protection. They may talk about what a condom IS and what it DOES, but that does not give students the whole picture. Few students in grade schools learn that condoms are the only way to protect themselves from STI/STD transmission. With that being said, you could imagine that few people have even heard of the words “dental dam.” I didn’t have a true demonstration of condom use until college. A professor showed the class how to properly roll on a condom, and then continued to put a water bottle in the condom and lasso-style whip the condom around her head. (Yes ladies, he CAN fit into that condom.) Be sure that your condom is facing the right way, is not expired and has no rips in the packaging. Pinch the tip of your condom and roll it all the way down the shaft. Here’s a detailed step-by-step provided by Planned Parenthood. It’s super simple and can be performed on any phallic vegetable or fruit for practice!:)

  2. 2. Masturbation is okay and healthy.

    In abstinence-only sex education, masturbation is a dirty word and is frankly never discussed. Like most girls, I learned about masturbation from jokes in movies and TV shows, friends, etc. There is still a huge stigma around females pleasuring themselves. Beyond this stigma, masturbation should be discussed as a healthy way to ease stress, learn about your body and bridge the “orgasm gap.” If women can’t get equal pay, we gotta get something, right? Masturbation is the only 100% way to not get pregnant and to not get STDs/STIs. It should be encouraged! If sex educators ever get to the point of discussing masturbation, it is also vital to couple it with porn literacy, meaning it’s necessary to communicate with young people that porn is not an accurate depiction of sex. 

  3. 3. Sex toys are not dirty. 

    If you ever heard a teacher in middle school or high school say the word “dildo,” yeah, you might laugh super hard. It’s really important to talk about these pieces of technology in order to erase stigma. People are using vibrators, strap-ons, vibrating rings, EVERYTHING, as it is a multi-billion dollar industry. However, many are hiding them away shamefully and shipping them to their houses in inconspicuous packaging. These toys are used for solo play, for couples and for multi-partner settings. They are a great way to explore what you do and don’t like. They do not replace sexual intercourse, they just bring new feelings and experiences. Plus, they come in cute shapes like penguins, bananas and even the Eiffel Tower. Romantic, oui?

  4. 4. There is no age, ceremony, etc. that should make you feel ready or unready for sexual activity.

    Across cultures, sexual maturity or readiness is marked by certain ceremonies. For example, many Christians believe one must wait until marriage to have sex. Being “pure” is important to their culture. However, this has caused more harm than good. In one account, a woman details how sex on her wedding night still felt wrong. Beliefs like this one can be truly damaging to natural sexual development and they instill ideas of sex being “wrong,” when it is merely a natural, biological activity.

    In Islam, virginity is also important. Should a young girl be discovered to have premarital sex, it can result in the loss of family honor. In some countries like Turkey, virginity is so important that physicians perform the “virginity test,” which looks to see if the hymen is intact. These practices are barbaric and the NCBI is urging these countries to ban these dangerous practices. [Sex ed mini-lesson: Hymens can break during running, tampon insertion, etc. It does not break due to penetrative sex alone.]

    Sex ed classes should discuss how different cultures view virginity while explaining that there is no correct time to have sex. Virginity IS a social construct. One will know when they’re ready or with the right person. 

     

  5. 5. STIs are treatable.

    In many schools, sexually transmitted diseases are mostly discussed as the grim reaper knocking on your door! This is simply not true. So many people lead normal, healthy lives with STIs. According to the American Sexual Health Association, “one in two sexually active persons will contract an STI by age 25.” Additionally, the World Health Organization states that more than one million are contracted every day, and comprehensive sex education is the way to slow these statistics.

    The information about STIs given to kids in school is often murky. Often, teachers will discuss each STI and what it is, emphasizing that they may show no symptoms at all. This information would be great if students were taught how and when to get tested for STIs. One can get tested at Planned Parenthood, their general doctor’s office, OBGYN, community health clinic, among other places. Feel free to Google clinics if you have had unprotected sex with a person whose sexual history is unknown. Tests are quick, easy and sometimes free. To spell it out for you plainly, chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis and trichomoniasis are curable with antibiotics. Herpes and HIV, though not curable, have effective antiretroviral medications that can keep them controlled. Many teachers prefer scare tactics over these simple facts!

  6. 6. How periods work.

    Thinx, the period panty brand, produced a commercial listed above, which depicts both men and women in a world where they both have periods. Periods are normal and natural and everyone, even those who do not have it, should understand the basics.

    Of course, we have no choice when it comes to periods. Our monthly little friend surely has a way of sneaking up on us during very convenient times like family beach vacations. This one makes the list because I know men in their 20s who still don’t know how pads, tampons and periods overall work.

    My friends have boyfriends who won’t buy them period products at the store if they need them. (My boyfriend is a good boy who is unafraid of Tampax!) It’s common in middle schools and high schools to separate boys from girls and have the period talk with the girls and… I don’t know… peenie talks with the boys? This separation makes periods seem like solely a female issue. Boys and men sometimes look at periods as if they are dirty and weird. Perhaps period sex would have less of a stigma as well if girls and boys were taught at the same time about periods. If we are all educated, we may all understand that the pink tax is harmful. (That is a whole other article that we will tackle later!)

  7. 7. Literally anything about the LGBTQ+ community.

    Few sex ed classes across the nation discuss what any of these identities even mean. According to the Human Rights Campaign, “fewer than five percent of LGBT students had health classes that included positive representations of LGBT-related topics.” Additionally, children who are questioning their sexual identities have few places to learn about different sexual orientations, often referring to internet resources. “Much of the sexual health information online is neither age-appropriate nor medically accurate, and peers may be misinformed,” wrote the HRC.

    Sexual education classes should be a place where different sexual orientations are discussed and where all forms of love are made commonplace. Quality comprehensive sexual education could erase stigmas and possibly save young people who struggle with depression.

  8. 8. Abortion and how it works.

    While this topic is used as a political pawn, it should not be treated as such in the classroom. Unintended pregnancy is a reality for young people. Young people must know their options with medically accurate information. Recently, I encountered a young person who was considering an abortion and had no idea they could terminate a pregnancy with a series of pills. There are many harmful and false beliefs about abortion that circulate due to conservative politics like how it "causes cancer" and is super "invasive," for example. In reality, many abortions are not invasive. Abortions can be medical via a series of pills, or they may be surgical which involves the dilation of the cervix. Women almost always go home the same day following these procedures. It is vital that these scientific procedures are not clouded with religion or personal morals. Everyone has the right to know the facts so they can arrive at their own conclusions.

     

Overall, the state of sexual education in schools needs a LOT of help! You can make a change. Stay educated, share what you know with friends who may have questions. Planned Parenthood has great educational pages on its website as well. You can even call your local and state officials and voice your complaints about these issues that may face your schools!

Comprehensive sex ed can save a lot of lives and change the future as we know it. Stay sexy and make good choices!