This article is from Tiger Newspaper’s September 2015 issue
The first time I learned about sex in school was in the seventh grade. Most students within SPUSD share a similar experience. My Life Science teacher was well-meaning. She emphasized open dialogue and the value of knowledge.
There are key concepts, however, that today’s education system leaves out. There are students-high schoolers who are 16, 17, even 18 years old-who are entirely uneducated when it comes to this topic. And if we’re honest, it’s incredibly important; sex plays a huge role in teenage and young adult lives.
So, here are some of the things we don’t learn in school:
1) Sex can be many, many things. In some classes, “sex” is defined by vaginal intercourse. Not only is this outlook ignorant of an entire range of sexual acts, but it promotes heteronormative values. Regardless of your opinion on same-sex marriage and relationships, there is no denying that gay sex happens. Learning that sex is between a penis and a vagina leaves students uneducated and increases the likelihood of unsafe sex.
2) Abstinence-only education has been off the table in California for years. In some classrooms, however, it’s been replaced with similarly limited perspectives on sexuality. Many teachers seem to deliver the message that abstinence is the best option. They address sex as a last resort, and give students information on safe sex to prepare them for the “worst case scenario.” This invalidates the reality that sex can be the right decision for many teenagers. It demeans students who are already sexually active and scares students who want to be. This “Sex Ed” is not inclusive. It promotes an agenda.
3) When discussing sex in class, the emphasis is almost always on safety. This is incredibly important and should continue to be a focus of sex education. However, what’s missing is a dialogue about having positive sex. Pleasure is almost never brought up, and pleasure is important. There is an entire population of high schoolers who have never heard of the clitoris, a sex organ that plays a large role in female pleasure. Positive sex is balanced; all partners benefit as equally as possible. Positive sex is respectful. Most importantly, positive sex is consensual.
It is totally okay to have sex if people desire it, and totally okay not to have sex if you don’t. There are legitimate reasons to engage in and to abstain from sex – the only thing that’s not okay is to try to impress your opinions on who/when/where/why/with whom to have sex on the people around you.