misleading slides of diseased genitals to try to terrify us out of sex. And sure, they told the girls that we should expect guys to pressure us into sex but that if we had "self-respect" we would always refuse. And sure, they let the entire class yuck it up during a video on sexual harassment and didn't give a crap if we took it seriously.
(The class reaction to that video was actually a fascinating insight into the stereotypes we held, even as teenagers, on what kinds of harassment are serious and what kinds are sexy/funny/unthinkable.
Video: "Sexual harassment can be male on female,"
Class: [stern silence]
Video: "Female on male,"
Video: "Male on male,"
Video: "Or female on female."
Class: [roaring, pounding on desks, falling out of chairs])
But at least they taught us that contraception exists! We even had another day where we learned that homosexuality and bisexuality exist. For public education in the US, that's outstanding sex ed. In retrospect, someone probably had to fight for that.
And yet it left me, not just lacking in advanced topics, but in the basic understanding of how sex even worked. I mean, it wasn't until I started watching porn that I understood what an erection was, or that intercourse involved thrusting. The sex-ed version was so sanitized it had left me honestly thinking men stuffed their soft dicks in women and just sorta stood around until they ejaculated. This isn't a frivolous pornographic detail. This is like taking driver's ed and still not knowing about the gas and brake pedals.
So here's some things I wish they'd taught in my sex ed class:
•"I know this is a pretty loaded subject, and a little nervous laughter is okay, but if you're laughing at someone, or if you're making disrespectful remarks, you're out and you can tell the principal what was so funny. This classroom is not a place to hurt people."
•"Homosexuality and bisexuality don't just exist as some 'other' that you should dutifully tolerate. Some of the people in this class are gay or bisexual. It may be you. You may or may not know it yet. And all that is okay."
•"Oh hey, you know who else exists? Transsexual, transgendered, and genderqueer people. They exist too. Let's make a note of that."
•"Some people want sex more and some people want it less. These are both normal and okay. There's nothing wrong with a girl who wants it more or a boy who wants it less."
•"It is not normal or okay to not want sex but to have someone have sex with you anyway. Whether you're a boy or a girl, even if you didn't stop them from having sex with you, that is not how sex is supposed to go."
•"There's a big debate among adults whether we should teach you about contraception. So I figure hey, this debate is about you, so you deserve to know about it. I'm going to teach the controversy! We'll learn the arguments on both sides of this issue and discuss them in class. However, we can't very well have an intelligent discussion on contraception without everyone being on the same page about the basics, so let me give you a quick primer. This is a condom..."
•"You know what else exists? Abortion. I'm not saying you should. I'm just saying that if you're fifteen and you're pregnant and you're not remotely ready to be a parent, you should know this is a thing you can do and have an idea of where to begin the process."
•"Here's a real rough outline of how sexual activity actually works. It's not lasciviously detailed, but it'll give you the gist. There's details in there like 'most penises like stroking with a bit of squeeze, but ask your partner to be sure.' You're going to be doing this at some point in your lives, you ought to know what you're even trying to accomplish." [I am aware how hilariously impossible this would be to get into a sex-ed curriculum anywhere in the US. I'm just dreaming now.]
•"You can't talk about sex without talking a little bit about love. Here's some things you should know about love."
•"The most important thing about sex is that it's consensual. The second most important thing is that it's safe. Whether you have sex is not important at all."
If you ruled the world, what would you teach kids in sex ed?